Effective recruitment and selection of online tutors

Slade, Sharon and Galpin, Fenella (2009). Effective recruitment and selection of online tutors. In: ALT-C 2009 “In Dreams Begins Responsibility”: Choice, Evidence and Change, 8-10 Sep 2009, Manchester, UK.

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This paper describes the Open University Business School’s experiences in developing an approach to the recruitment of tutors working on globally-available courses that are supported through an online environment. The approach recognises that, as well as a standard set of facilitation and academic skills, additional competences are required for effective online student support. These include proficiency in working with basic technical tools with access to appropriate ICT, as well as an understanding of the constraints and benefits of online communication, the use of appropriate language and an appreciation of cultural differences.

A background to the tutor-student support model is set out and a summary given of the current traditional approach to tutor recruitment, whereby applicants are invited to a venue for interview and to demonstrate other largely face-to-face tutoring skills.

The continuing advancement of ICT and an improved understanding of managing effective online learning has led to an evolution of OU Business School course delivery, allowing students to successfully participate in many of our courses without geographic constraints. This in turn required a revised approach to tutor recruitment which tested for newer competences which the standard approach omitted to address.

As part of this approach, the paper discusses a set of activities designed to establish applicants’ understanding of the differences needed to transfer effective facilitation of student learning into effective online learning. Detailed examples are given of some of the activities used, as well as an indication of the expected responses. The recruitment method is adapted to suit the needs of each course, as required, and has evolved as a result of experience and application to a wide range of different courses and requirements. The approach has now been recommended as standard for recruitment of tutors to online courses across the wider Open University.

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