A Multi-Island Situation Without the Ocean: Tutors' perceptions about working in isolation from colleagues
Keywords:Distance education, open education, tutor isolation, staff isolation, collaboration, administrative support, professional support, colleague support
AbstractDistance education is generally seen as a very isolating experience for students, but one often forgets that it can be an equally isolating experience for teaching staff, who sometimes must work in isolation from colleagues. This study examines the experiences of nine tutors at one of the 10 biggest universities in the world, Universtiy of South Africa's (Unisa) Reading and Writing Centres. The tutors all work at different Regional Offices across South Africa. This study examines both quantitative data (closed-ended questions) and qualitative data (open-ended questions) obtained from questionnaires. This study seeks to determine to what extent administrative support, professional development support, and colleague support influence tutors' feelings of isolation. This paper takes the position that if feelings of isolation are curbed, staff retention will be improved, which in turn means that the university retains valuable experience. Findings show that contact with and collaboration between colleagues significantly decrease feelings of isolation. Other important methods of curbing isolation are regular training and continuous administrative support.
How to Cite
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence. The copyright of all content published in IRRODL is retained by the authors.
This copyright agreement and use license ensures, among other things, that an article will be as widely distributed as possible and that the article can be included in any scientific and/or scholarly archive.
You are free to
- Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format
- Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially.
The licensor cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow the license terms below:
- Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.
- No additional restrictions — You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.