Acknowledging the Distance Learner: The Role of the Student Voice in Enhancing the Quality of the Distance Learner’s E-Learning Experience

Acknowledging the Distance Learner: The Role of the Student Voice in Enhancing the Quality of the Distance Learner’s E-Learning Experience

Trish Andrews
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4205-8.ch017
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The growth of e-learning, particularly distance learning via e-learning, is widely recognised as a significant factor influencing higher education in the 21st century. The rapid and ongoing uptake of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for teaching and learning, along with the recognition that increased student engagement can lead to more effective learning, is changing the way in which teaching and learning occurs in universities. This chapter suggests that the distance learner is frequently overlooked in the current climate when it comes to consideration of student needs and that current applications of ICT for distance learning raises questions about the quality of their learning experience. The chapter discusses the role of the student voice in understanding and addressing students’ needs in relation to the quality of their learning experience and suggests that greater attention needs to be paid to the distinct voice of the distance education student. The chapter provides some methodologies for collecting the student’s voice and gives consideration to how addressing the distance learners’ voice to enhance their learning experience might be most effectively accomplished.
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E-Learning And Distance Learning

There is extensive debate in the literature in relation to the definitions of e-learning and distance learning and in many cases these terms are used interchangeably (Guri-Rozenblit, 2009; 2005; Kim, 2007), resulting in confusion and a lack of clarity around their meaning and use. For the purposes of this chapterwe will use the broad definition of e-learning as put forward by Kim (2007, p. 1) who describes e-learning as being constituted of a combination of “Technological advances and wide availability of personal computers, CDs, the Internet, the Web, broadband access to the Internet, etc.” Distance learning, on the other hand, can be described as learning that takes place where teachers and learners are separated by time and distance and where the learning is mediated by technology (Eastmond 1998; Keegan, 2008). While there are undoubted overlaps between e-learning and distance learning, the separation of teachers and students in distance learning is a key difference.

Using this definition, distance learning can be viewed as utilising a broad range of technology-based teaching and learning approaches and may be synchronous, asynchronous or both.

Learning technologies utilised by distance educators can include:

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