The rise of the telecommuter.
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As the number of distance delivered e-learning courses being offered increases, so does the number of academics who are teaching from their home offices—most often referred to as ‘teleworkers’. While research has shown there are benefits of teleworking for both the institution and the employee (Hill, Ferris and Martinson 2003; Ng 2006; Pinsonneault and Boisvert 1996), it also has drawbacks. One drawback to teleworking is that it can create a vulnerable situation for employees, arising from the lack of contact between colleagues and the organization, often resulting in feelings of isolation and a lack of collegial community (Beyth-Marom, Harpaz-Gorodeisky, Bar-Haim and Godder 2006; Cooper and Kurland 2002; Mael and Ashforth1992; Meyer and Allen 1997; Meyer, Stanley, Herscovitch and Topolnytsky 2002). Though, research has shown this problem can be decreased when there is regular contact and collaboration between colleagues, with the most effective contact being activities that revolve around the provision of regular training and continuous support for professional growth (Fouche 2006; Lockwood & Latchem 2004; Schrum and Ohler 2005). Within our own institution number of full time staff who are choosing to be teleworkers has exceeded 50%. This has created new participation problems to continuous learning opportunities for those who have opted to be teleworkers. The objectives of the study were twofold: (1) to explore what structures and practices can encourage the improvement of e-learning teaching practices and (2) to do so in ways that will overcome many of the participation barriers for academics who are teleworkers.