The e-Tutor in Learning 2.0 Scenarios: Profile, Professional Empowerment, and New Roles

The e-Tutor in Learning 2.0 Scenarios: Profile, Professional Empowerment, and New Roles

Mario Rotta (University of Florence, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-826-0.ch009
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Abstract

With this contribution, we briefly explain how both the e-Tutor role and competencies have changed since the beginning of the debate about this essential e-Learning human resource. Until now, what set of professional functions were requested to be a good e-Tutor? What training policies must be identified to give an answer to the needs of e-Tutors for them to be able to interact effectively in e-Learning scenarios oriented to sharing knowledge and social networking?
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1. Background: The E-Tutor As An E-Learning Professional:A Brief History

Especially between 1997 and 2000, the research (Calvani & Rotta, 2000; Cornelius & Higgison, 2000; Collison & al., 2000; Salmon, 2000) focused on more complex frameworks to define e-Learning: both researchers and practitioners defined or experimented e-Learning as a wide range of opportunities to change educational strategies. So, in that period, the e-Tutor was involved not only in moderating online communication but also in a lot of other tasks, such as facilitating learners in time management or content understanding, motivating students, supporting technical problems, organizing the virtual learning environment. The main framework (accepted in Italy for many years), according to scenarios described by Mason and Kaye (1992), reinforced by Rowntree (1995), and re-visited in Italy by Trentin (1999), Calvani and Rotta (2000), identified three main “levels” of e-tutoring, matching the main goals of different learning processes and the more referred models of online courses. Thus, referring to the profile of the e-Tutor, firstly we considered the Instructor, more involved in supporting content, and content and support models of courses, then the Facilitator, more focused on facilitating the learning process in learner-centred, and in the so called wrap-around courses, and, finally, the Moderator, more oriented towards the management of conferencing and social interactions between learners with a key-role in all courses based on collaborative approach. All the relationships between e-tutoring and instructional approaches were represented in a framework (Fig.1), in which we can easily identify all the possible evolutions of the e-Tutor’s role.

Figure 1.

The relationships between the role of the e-Tutors, learning goals and various instructional approaches.

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