Connecting Past and Future Educational Practice: A Post-COVID-19 Present


  • Simon Paul Atkinson Sijen
  • Alison Fields Infosolutions Ltd



distance learning, distance communication, distance student experience, teaching presence


The challenges of supporting learners at a distance are enduring. But the nature of these challenges is changing, and this change has been particularly notable since the beginning of the pandemic and the rapid worldwide move to distance and online learning. A brief look is taken at the evolving nature of the distance-student experience under the theme of “Time is the new distance”. This is complemented with four papers in this issue, each of which is concerned with an aspect of meeting the challenges of supporting distance learners. Hartline et al. draw attention to the importance of the teacher’s presence in decreasing student anxiety. Forbes explores the effectiveness of asynchronous communication as an effective learner support. Cameron et al. share a national perspective from a wider international study, concluding that clear communication by institutions and other authorities can reduce uncertainty for students and is necessary to mitigate the negative effects of future disruptions to study. And finally, Adebisi and Olatunji round off the set of articles with findings that the key psychosocial experience of students revolves around the flexibility and cost of distance learning, work–life pressures, and the availability of faculty.

Author Biographies

Simon Paul Atkinson, Sijen

Simon is a higher education strategist with over 25 years’ experience as an academic developer, educational technologist, teacher, and researcher. He has held senior roles in both the United Kingdom and Aotearoa New Zealand and has lectured and presented in over 15 countries, as well as online to global audiences. He is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, President of the Flexible Learning Association of New Zealand (FLANZ), and joint Editor of the Journal of Open, Flexible and Distance Learning.

Alison Fields, Infosolutions Ltd

Alison is an information scientist and Director of Research at InfoSolutions. She conducts research in health information, and contracts in the education sector. She is a fellow of the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA) and has a Doctorate in Education. Her research areas encompass elearning, online learner support, health information, library services, and continuing professional development. Alison is an executive member of FLANZ and joint Editor of the Journal of Open, Flexible and Distance Learning.