All posts by Dr. Hettie van Der Merwe

About Dr. Hettie van Der Merwe

University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa

Mentoring teaching skills within the context of open distance learning

A college at the University of South Africa embarked on a formal mentoring programme to mentor newcomer academics in appropriate teaching skills relevant to a contextualised open distance learning environment. The mentors who took part in the in-house mentoring initiative were experienced academics who will be retiring from the system over the next decade. The aim of the research reported in this paper was to determine which open distance learning-related teaching skills are considered most important to be conveyed through in-house mentoring. Based on an interpretive paradigm a mixed-methods research approach with document study and individual e-interviewing was used. Main findings included that a student corps with diverse characteristics and needs still necessitates an emphasis on tuition via print media, but with an increased incorporation of technology to arrange for constructive learning through interactive communication so as to respond to viable imperatives for technology application. Major teaching skills pertained to the developing of study material in the proper register for reader understanding and to employ myUnisa (a web-based learning system) to facilitate learning. The research contributes to a refining of the discourse on constructive open distance learning teaching within an environment that is increasingly exposed to using digital technologies to adhere to global imperatives for knowledge-based relevancy.

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