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Identifying the roles of an e-tutor

Teaching online can differ a lot from face-to-face teaching, and it is useful to consider the role of the e-tutor in an online, e-learning context. The demands of online learning may also affect the way in which both teachers and learners perceive the teaching and learning process, and the roles and identities of the participants within it. In this activity, you will consider certain aspects of an e-tutor's role.

Aspects of an e-tutor's role

E-tutoring is a challenging activity: e-tutors often have a range of duties they must carry out and often the workload in e-tutoring can be intense. In this activity, you are going to consider the variety of tasks which an e-tutor may need to undertake as part of their teaching, and then categorise them according to the kind of tutoring role that they reflect: social, organisational, or pedagogical/intellectual.



Read these examples of e-tutor activity on an online course, and decide whether they are part of the teacher's social, organisational, or pedagogical/intellectual role. Select the button next to your choice and then read the feedback.

Encouraging, acknowledging, and responding to learner comments in a discussion forum.

Setting out teaching and learning objectives, class assignments, or discussion topics.

Focussing discussion on specific issues of relevance to students and/or the course learning aims

Recognising misconceptions or misunderstandings on the part of students and clarifying where confusion exists.

Keeping accurate, useful and up-to-date records of student activity, progress and achievement.

Trying to establish a positive atmosphere for learning

Would you like to review the main points?


Ko, S. and Rossen, S. (2010). Teaching Online. London: Routledge.

Salmon, G. (2011). E-Moderating: The Key to Teaching and Learning Online, 3rd edition. London: Kogan Page.

Adapted from material used on the University of Southampton / British Council Online MA in English Language Teaching.

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