Implications for academic workload of the changing role of distance educators

Adéle Bezuidenhout*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The changing work roles and resulting workloads of distance educators hold significant implications for the wellbeing and mental health of academics. New work roles include redesigning curricula for online delivery, increasing staff-student ratios and demands for student-support, management of part-time staff, and 24-h availability. This research was conducted to investigate the perceived importance of various job roles constituting the quantitative and qualitative workload of distance educators at an open and distance learning university in South Africa. A quantitative, cross-sectional self-report survey design was employed. A stratified random sampling technique was used to ensure generalisability. The questionnaires were completed online, and the results were statistically analysed. The findings include a priority list of 40 distance educators’ work roles that may impact on their perceived workload. The article offers recommendations for policy development to facilitate a healthy workload allocation for distance educators.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-262
Number of pages17
JournalDistance Education
Issue number2
Early online date30 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


  • academics
  • changing roles
  • distance educators
  • distance learning
  • faculty
  • workload


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