n Education as Change - From a distance : tutors as a community of practice

Volume 9, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1682-3206
  • E-ISSN: 1947-9417
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In-service teacher education in South Africa is offered by universities predominantly through open and distance learning. The role of the tutor at the interface between the university and the student becomes critical in this type of programme. Within the mixed-mode Bachelor of Education (Honours) degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, there is an acknowledgement of the need to empower tutors through staff development initiatives. One such initiative ran parallel with an Education leadership module, which aimed to support tutors in their learning of new education leadership theory. This article explores tutor participation in a community of practice and evaluates Lave and Wenger's concepts of 'communities of practice' and 'legitimate peripheral participation' for in-service distance education in South Africa. It uses data gathered from a six-month self-reflective journaling process, as well as a focus group interview. It argues for the development of communities at a distance to support tutors in their delivery of mixed mode programmes but highlights the limitations of the master/apprentice metaphor imbedded in 'legitimate peripheral participation' and extends this to accommodate the South African context.

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