Establishing a Sense of Connectedness Amongst Theology Students in Distance Education
Keywords:distance education, social connectedness, technology, student preferences, transition pedagogy
AbstractStudent engagement is required for effective distance learning. Amongst other things, it is built by fostering connectedness amongst tutors, academic advisors, and students, and by providing high-quality content and materials through appropriate technologies. Students are more likely to succeed when they experience these different aspects as a coherent whole in their learning environment. Previously, Laidlaw College’s Centre for Distance Learning refined its systems for course design and evaluated its provision of academic support. The present paper reports findings from a survey which explored student learning experiences by measuring perceptions of connectedness with tutors, advisors, and their fellow students; perceptions of an orientation event; and preferences for a variety of technologies through which students access course materials. The findings tentatively suggest that students experienced their study as an integrated whole. While there was significant variability in individual preferences relating to the use of technology, expectations that different demographic groups would have different preferences were not supported.
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