Competencies Required for the Facilitation of Online Learning Courses: An Online Teaching Assistants Competency Based Approach
Teaching Assistants also known as e-tutors are unfamiliar with skills needed for teaching at open distance learning institutions. But many open and distance learning systems around the world use the services of part time teaching assistants as a link between students and the university. Globally Teaching Assistants serve as part of the student support network of any open distance education university. Moreover, Teaching Assistants are engaged as a link between the course coordinator, students and the open distance learning institution. They perform various roles such as facilitating learning of subject matter content, stimulating discussion forums, assessing assignments, providing motivation and encouragement, and supporting students on group projects. Each of these roles requires specific competencies to enable them to perform satisfactorily. This qualitative study sought evidence from teaching assistants who have been involved with the UNISA online module over two semesters. The review of literature, observation of interaction between students and teaching assistants and e-mail interviews were used to identify the roles performed by Teaching Assistants at an Open Distance Learning institution and the competencies required for each role in the facilitation of student support and retention. The results showed that teaching assistants were already computer literate before they participated in the online module. They also learnt various skills during the facilitation process but still need to learn more to build their confidence. This study recommends the training of online teaching assistants for use in competence-building to be effective online facilitators.
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Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)
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