Higher Education is currently undergoing some of the most profound changes in its history. Against a backdrop of increasing marketization, rising levels of student debt and far greater fully online offerings, the higher education lecturer is grappling with new ways of working and high expectations of teaching quality. This 3 year qualitative study based in The Open University UK investigates the ways in which HE distance learning lecturers are approaching professional development and learning, identifying what type of learning may be most effective in creating and sustaining an online teaching identity. The study also examines ways in which resistance discourse is shaping these identities and practices revealing emerging re-conceptualisations of what it means to be an effective and well-motivated distance learning lecturer. The investigation uses a framework for identity analysis which analyses professional identity via the expression of hegemonies, phenomenological, narrative articulations of identity, and a post-modern, constructivist view of identity which is shaped by social interactions and communities of practice. It highlights the importance of personal agency in identity formation. The results revealed a number of insights into the ways in which a combination of resistance discourse, professional learning and reflections from student interactions are shaping new understandings of professional knowledge in this context.
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