Students' Support in an ODeL Context: Students in ODeL

Students' Support in an ODeL Context: Students in ODeL

Kefiloe Adolphina Maboe (University of South Africa, South Africa)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7841-3.ch006
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Open distance and e-learning (ODeL) gives students who occupy multiple roles and are affected by the barriers of distance, cost, and time an opportunity to pursue their studies; these students are called distance students. For them to be successful as distance students, knowledge of technology is important as teaching and learning is conducted online and students are expected to interact actively online. There is no value if you have knowledge of technology as a distance student but do not interact online. The student must actively interact with peers, lecturers, study materials, and the university; failure to do so will affect learning and teaching negatively. Most students do not interact online. ODeL institutions prescribe technological tools for the students to interact online, but they lack academic, administrative, and technical support, which is a concern. ODeL institutions must commit themselves to always supporting distance students – academically, cognitively, administratively, institutionally, and affectively.
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Recent years have seen a concerted effort by higher education institutions to offer courses and qualifications using distance education as well as an increasing emphasis on offering these courses for online distance learning using the internet. The use of online systems requires students to log on to a website on a regular basis and download relevant documents (study material). The reason for students opting for distant learning programmes are varied (Falloon 2011). Generally, the structure of open distance and e-learning (ODeL) provides students with great flexibility. It provides control over time, place and pace of education. However, changing to learning at a distance has brought with it particular challenges.

For instance, the student demographics have changed dramatically, as universities and education centres compete to provide open and online undergraduate and graduate courses in various disciplines, including nursing. In America, the phenomenal growth in the number of online nursing courses that were offered on associate, baccalaureate and graduate levels led to the development of online learning programmes in other health disciplines at an increasing rate (Reeves & Reeves 2008:46).

Moore and Kearsley (2012) indicate that most distance education students are adults between the ages of 25 and 50 years. The author of this chapter supports Moore and Kearsley’s view because the targeted and researched participants were students from more or less a similar age group. Their ages ranged from 21 to 60 years, and they are qualified nurses studying at the Department of Health Studies at an ODeL institution. Qualified nurses have a Diploma in Nursing. ODeL promotes lifelong learning, as it caters for students of all ages during their transition from post basic education to higher education. The findings of this study conducted on online learning among health studies students at an open learning institution indicated that these students benefit from being distance students. Once they have posted their assignments online, they can be certain that these assignments are received because an acknowledgement of receipt is produced immediately. They learn at their own pace, and they do not have to attend classes physically.

Key Terms in this Chapter

E-Learning: E-learning is the process of acquiring knowledge either formally or informally in any setting by using technological tools.

Challenges: Challenges in this context constitute the problems that ODeL students are encountering while studying online, including cognitive, affective, psychomotor, and technological problems, which affect their learning negatively.

Open Distance E-Learning (ODeL): It is the type of teaching and learning that gives students, who have to fulfil multiple roles and are affected by the barriers of distance, cost and time, an opportunity to pursue their studies online.

Higher Education: Higher education is a program that is regulated by laws and educational frameworks as stipulated by different countries for students to acquire knowledge at colleges and universities, with the aim of obtaining a recognized qualification.

Non-Academic Support: This type of support is mainly provided by the ICT department, and they are expected to conduct regular evaluations to check whether lecturers and students are comfortable with using online interactive tools, and whether they are encountering any difficulties.

Student Support: Student support in an ODeL context is all the collaborative activities provided to the distant student by fellow students, lecturers, administrative staff, the community and the information and communication technologists, being pedagogical, social, emotional and technological in nature. These activities aim at preventing high attrition rates and prolonged completion of registered programs and at enabling students to complete the program for which they have registered.

Online Interactivity: Online interactivity is communication in an educational context between students and their peers, students and lecturers, and students and the higher education institution, using various technological tools to facilitate teaching and learning.

Lecturer: A lecturer is any person who is trained to facilitate teaching and learning formally for knowledge acquisition.

Academic Support: A lecturer fulfilling the role of parent and guardian to the students in providing teaching and learning support with reference to the cognitive, psychomotor, and affective domains of Bloom’s taxonomy.

Teaching: Teaching is the art and science whereby a lecturer conveys knowledge to students in a formal setting, employing a variety of methods.

Student: A student is a person who wants to acquire knowledge in a formal setting.

Technology: Technology is referred to as innovative, cognitive, and psychomotor knowledge that is conveyed using a variety of tools, being computers and social and educational media, that enable online interaction between students, lecturers, and the university.

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