2.5 Managing the role
When preparing for the role of an affiliated guide, you need to consider what that might mean in terms of your time commitment and also your relationship with other learners.
Most of the online conversations that you will be guiding will be in an asynchronous environment. This means that learners will hardly ever be communicating with each other at the same time. Asynchronous conversations can sometimes have less energy than either synchronous or face-to-face settings, but they do allow a high degree of flexibility as learners dip in and out of discussions.
A drawback for the affiliated guide, however, is that your role can seem never-ending, as you may feel you are having repeated conversations. Therefore it is important that you are realistic about the amount of time you spend online and also that you manage the expectations of learners. For example, you should let the learners know roughly how often and at what times they can expect a response from you. There may also be opportunities in larger conversations to work together with another guide to manage the workload.
Relationship with learners
Your relationship with learners is mainly about your presence as a supportive and encouraging ‘friend’. You are not a tutor or facilitator, so can be seen as a ‘less formal’ member of the course team. Therefore, it is important that you set yourself realistic boundaries about your role and to make sure that the learners are aware of this at the start.
In addition, there may be other people involved in the course. There may be an instructor present from time to time; this will most likely be an academic who was involved in the creation of the course, or a presenter of the video lectures. The instructor may be present for a feature session as part of the learners’ activities. There will also be the course facilitators (part of your role is to support them) and you may also work with other affiliated guides and/or guides.