The Fourth Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF4)
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Charmaine McKenzie

Tutor Interaction in the Online Environment: An Assessment of e-Tutoring Support in Blended Learning

Charmaine McKenzie
University of the West Indies Distance Education Centre

Paulette Bell-Kerr
University of the West Indies Distance Education Centre

Howard Smith
University of the West Indies Distance Education Centre

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     Last modified: August 9, 2006
     Presentation date: 11/01/2006 11:45 AM in ST Windsor A
     (View Schedule)

In the academic year 2005–2006, UWIDEC shifted its delivery mode from a predominately synchronous mixed mode (or blended learning model, as we now know it) to an asynchronous model. This shift was necessary to ensure the broader reach required for UWI to further its mission of unlocking the potential of the Caribbean region.

Tutorial support has always been an integral part of UWIDEC’s delivery mode, providing not only content support but that vital human interface needed in distance learning. In transitioning from face to face to e-tutoring the challenge therefore lay in addressing a mindset on the part of tutors and students more accustomed to a ‘teaching’ mode than a facilitative one. To effect the transition, a series of training workshops for tutors was held in the three campus countries. The workshops aimed to reorient the skills and attitudes of tutors and introduce them to the use of the learning management system.

This paper reviews the performance of UWIDEC’s e-tutors. Against the background of established best practices and the guidelines laid out within UWIDEC, we will apply conversation theory and an analysis of particular linguistic structures to investigate tutor interaction with groups and assess the effectiveness of their performance in improving learner competence in critical thinking and problem solving.

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