Designing for dialogue at a distance: Reflections on how to create and maintain an effective teaching-learning relationship with students


  • Claire McLachlan-Smith University of Auckland


online learning, distance education, e-learning, distance learning, teacher student dialogue


One of the key issues for distance educators as we move into an increasingly open and flexible learning environment is how to create the dialogue we can promote in our face to face classrooms in alternative teaching media. Although many institutions have been teaching successfully at a distance for many years, they are now faced with an increasingly sophisticated student market, which can recognise when a teacher is not delivering an effective learning package, regardless of teaching media. This paper discusses theories of adult learning and how to promote a teaching-learning dialogue between teachers and students at a distance. It also presents some quantitative feedback from students about how papers and lecturers helped or hindered their learning at a distance. Finally, the paper discusses an approach to creating dialogue with students at a distance, based on the notions of dialogue, scaffolding, and apprenticeship in learning, which may be a useful model for instructional design in diverse delivery modes.

Author Biography

Claire McLachlan-Smith, University of Auckland

GoodfellowUnit, Department of General Practice, Faculty of Medicine and Health Science