The changing role of the ODL academic: An auto-ethnographical account

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New academics struggle to make sense of the role expectations they face in the open and distance learning (ODL) context. The article is qualitative in nature and an auto-ethnographic approach is used. The methodology included thematic analysis, coding and categorising of data. I reflect on my personal journey coming from a conventional university, and having to adjust to the ODL environment. The article explores my lived experience towards finding my place within the ODL context. As a reflective study on the changing role of the ODL academic, I believe that this research could inform human resource policy at ODL institutions. It could also pave the way for a more rigorous orientation programme for new academics in ODL that takes cognisance of the feelings of self-doubt, alienation, de-humanisation and loss. The new academic needs to experience empathy from the employer before he or she can show authentic concern towards his or her students.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-33
Number of pages15
JournalProgressio: South African Journal for Open and Distance Learning Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


  • ODL
  • academic staff
  • work experience
  • orientation
  • role expectations
  • auto-ethnographic


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