An importance–competence analysis of the roles and competencies of e-tutors at an open distance learning institution

Nadine de Metz, Adele Bezuidenhout


This study investigates the role of the e-tutor within an Open Distance Learning Higher Education institution in terms of perceptions of their work roles and the assessment of the competencies of the e-tutor. In the universities’ strategic plan the importance of providing excellent service to learners is strongly emphasised. E-tutors are the learner’s first and foremost contact with the university; they invariably become the “face of the ODL university” to the geographically distant learner. E-tutors are therefore strategically important for the perceived quality and attractiveness of the university; however they can also be a vulnerable link in the university’s educational chain. The process of online tutoring therefore becomes a critical success factor in learners’ acceptance of e-learning. The first phase of the research focuses on the e-tutor perspective, investigating the competencies required by e-tutors to function effectively in an online environment, as well as their perceived role. A survey was administered to e-tutors in the College of Economic and Management Sciences of the University to assess their perceived roles and competencies. Understanding the importance of these roles and identifying necessary tutoring skills is paramount for the success of e-learning solutions.


E-tutors; competencies; roles; importance-competence analysis

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