The two roles of e-learning professors

The two roles of e-learning professors

Last week I got a meeting with people of Intermón Oxfam about the possibilities of setting up an intranet and an e-training programme within.

I like these meetings because they make me think and improve my skills in abstraction, conceptualization, etc. Then the output is sometimes pleasant sometimes not: these meetings make clear what I know and what I don’t.

Talking about the roles played by the professors in an e-learning environment I made the point in distinguishing content from communication or, in better words, authorship from lecturing.

One of these typical errors related to translating presencial learning to distance (on-line) learning deals with not being able to see you can (you should?) treat authors and teachers as different roles, and not as the same person, as in presencial courses happens.

The author must:

  • Master contents, he or she has to be (if possible) the best in his field
  • Focus on content, meaning that he has to consider mainly an output, a contents support, a learning object
  • Not think of his availability during the course: he might not even take part in it!

The teacher (virtual tutor, class tutor, etc.) must:

  • Master communication, he’s the responsible of the course tempo and the students participation
  • Master the environment where everything will take place, know the rules of the game, what will work better and what worse, etc.
  • Know the content, but not necessarily master it
  • Be available during the course

Of course this can be done by the same person, but also by different people, even more than two: different authors, the best on each subject; and different teachers for different virtual classrooms.

I think this is of special interest in the field of NGOs and non-profits: availability of people is quite an issue and content is found in the minds of some people (experts) that have worked in some projects, places, etc.

E-learning brings them the possibility to

  • make their experts work as authors and, if everything is well documented and filed, authorship becomes quite easy
  • make their (on-line) volunteers (e-volunteers in e-volunteering for e-training programmes) be the teachers, staying home, with maximum availability at the minimum effort

There are, of course, plenty more roles in e-teaching, but I guess this categorization is a good starting point.


If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2003) “The two roles of e-learning professors” In ICTlogy, #3, December 2003. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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1 Comment to “The two roles of e-learning professors” »

  1. I think I want to make a comment… The author should be as good as possible, but he or she doesn’t have to be the best. What I usually find as important is that the author must be a very good communicator. A lot of knowledge without communication skills (written, in this case) is no good.

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