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Superficial Social Inclusion:Reflections from First-time Distance Learners             Mark Brown, Helen Hughes,        Na...
Research Partnership…                        http://delfa.massey.ac.nz
Acknowledgement…                                http://www.dehub.edu.au    Support for this project and the production of ...
Introduction…        How many of you have been distance        learners?        Tell us about your experience…
Background…      Distance    education    is    historically      deeplyrootedin the goals of social      justice by incre...
Background…      Distance    education    is    historically      deeplyrootedin the goals of social      justice by incre...
Background…      But Distance Education faces significant      challenges as issues of attrition (retention)      and comp...
Background…
Background…   67%   54%
Background…   72%   58%
Background…   Publication of league tables:      - attrition      - completion      - progression           http://www.tec...
Literature…   What does the literature say?
Literature…    • Issues around student engagement are complex    • Further investigation required of the „soft‟ factors   ...
Research Design…   Objective…   To enhance the supports and services available for first-time   distance learners. More sp...
Research Design…   Objective…   To enhance the supports and services available for first-time   distance learners. More sp...
Research Design…     • Design-based Research     • Phase 3 - Stories of first-time distance learners     • 140 volunteers ...
Research Design…   Video Diaries…      •   Adapted from JISC (2006), Arnold & Riddle (2007) and          Cashmore, Green &...
Participants – Libby…                        30 – 39 years                        Maori                        4 papers (u...
Participants – Libby…     „As for assignments, Im looking at getting a tutor     as they dont seem to be going the way the...
Participants – Libby…      „I didnt realise when I took everything on how everything      is so close together – youve got...
Participants – Libby…      „I didnt realise when I took everything on how everything      is so close together – youve got...
Comments…
Participants - Jack…                       50 - 59 years                       Maori / European                       2 pa...
Participants - Jack…      „Things are crunching up. Ive fallen a bit behind in some      of my studies. As usual, I feel t...
Participants - Jack…      „Things are crunching up. Ive fallen a bit behind in some      of my studies. As usual, I feel t...
Participants - Jack…     „Unfortunately I did not do as well I had hoped. I faded     badly towards the end of the study p...
Comments…
Participants – Ursula…                         60+ years                         European                         1 paper ...
Participants – Ursula…      „I would like to continue [participating] but not being      able to send the video misses the...
Comments…
Key Questions…     1. How do we nurture a sense of belonging and        connectedness amongst distance learners that will ...
Key Questions…     1. How do we nurture a sense of belonging and        connectedness amongst distance learners that will ...
Key Takeaways…   1. Stories „add flesh‟ to the „soft factors‟ of what it means      to be a distance learner.   2. Distanc...
Key Takeaways…   4. There is variable digital literacy among first time      distance learners which can be a real barrier...
Final Questions…       “A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.”                          Francis Bacon                 ...
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Superficial Social Inclusion: Reflections from First-time Distance Learners

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Paper presented at International Higher Education First Year Experience Conference, June 2012.

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Superficial Social Inclusion: Reflections from First-time Distance Learners

  1. 1. Superficial Social Inclusion:Reflections from First-time Distance Learners Mark Brown, Helen Hughes, Natasha Hard, Mike Keppell & Liz Smith IFYHE Conference June, 2012
  2. 2. Research Partnership… http://delfa.massey.ac.nz
  3. 3. Acknowledgement… http://www.dehub.edu.au Support for this project and the production of this report has been provided by DEHub, funded by the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). The views expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect the views of the DEHub, Australian Government or DEEWR.
  4. 4. Introduction… How many of you have been distance learners? Tell us about your experience…
  5. 5. Background… Distance education is historically deeplyrootedin the goals of social justice by increasing educational access and promoting lifelong learning and development.
  6. 6. Background… Distance education is historically deeplyrootedin the goals of social justice by increasing educational access and promoting lifelong learning and development. Highly relevant to participation targets…
  7. 7. Background… But Distance Education faces significant challenges as issues of attrition (retention) and completion are particularly acute and have come into sharp relief.
  8. 8. Background…
  9. 9. Background… 67% 54%
  10. 10. Background… 72% 58%
  11. 11. Background… Publication of league tables: - attrition - completion - progression http://www.tec.govt.nz/
  12. 12. Literature… What does the literature say?
  13. 13. Literature… • Issues around student engagement are complex • Further investigation required of the „soft‟ factors • Need to move away from „goulash‟approach • There is a growing body of literature on first year experience – led in Australia • Gap in the literature on the experiences of first-time distance learners • Dearth of research that presents the learner voice
  14. 14. Research Design… Objective… To enhance the supports and services available for first-time distance learners. More specifically…
  15. 15. Research Design… Objective… To enhance the supports and services available for first-time distance learners. More specifically… • To investigate the experiences of being a first time distance learner „in their own words‟ from a student perspective • To develop a set of overarching principles for enhancing distance learner engagement and success; • To develop a conceptual framework for identifying the most effective use of various intervention tools, supports and resources at early stages of the study lifecycle.
  16. 16. Research Design… • Design-based Research • Phase 3 - Stories of first-time distance learners • 140 volunteers from pool of 850 potential participants • 20 participantsbroadly representive distance learners • Obtained full human ethics approval process • Weekly video diaries using Sony bloggie™
  17. 17. Research Design… Video Diaries… • Adapted from JISC (2006), Arnold & Riddle (2007) and Cashmore, Green & Scott (2010) • Aim for video diary of ≥ 5 m/pw for ≤ 6 wks • Actual video diaries were 2 – 16 m/pw for 7 – 16 wks • Participant withdrawals: 2 early, 5 in W7, 5 in W14, 8 in W16 • Data collection aided by „reflective prompt framework‟
  18. 18. Participants – Libby… 30 – 39 years Maori 4 papers (units) College of Humanities Remote location Not employed 7 children
  19. 19. Participants – Libby… „As for assignments, Im looking at getting a tutor as they dont seem to be going the way they are supposed to be. Ive done a lot of research on how to do an assignment but it doesnt seem to make a lot of sense to me‟
  20. 20. Participants – Libby… „I didnt realise when I took everything on how everything is so close together – youve got quizzes and assignment and youve got to read this and that... Didnt realise how hard it is to find 1500 words. I can do it verbally but putting on paper, not working... Having to find so many words without rambling is pretty hard.
  21. 21. Participants – Libby… „I didnt realise when I took everything on how everything is so close together – youve got quizzes and assignment and youve got to read this and that... Didnt realise how hard it is to find 1500 words. I can do it verbally but putting on paper, not working... Having to find so many words without rambling is pretty hard. As much as a couple of weeks ago I was ready to give up, my goal is to be a social worker and Im not ready to give up. So Im going to rest, maybe sleep‟.
  22. 22. Comments…
  23. 23. Participants - Jack… 50 - 59 years Maori / European 2 papers (units) College of Business Auckland Seeking employment
  24. 24. Participants - Jack… „Things are crunching up. Ive fallen a bit behind in some of my studies. As usual, I feel tired. At the end of the day, to study, its just trying to slog it. I think its Ive not done as much study as I wanted to do in the last couple of weeks.
  25. 25. Participants - Jack… „Things are crunching up. Ive fallen a bit behind in some of my studies. As usual, I feel tired. At the end of the day, to study, its just trying to slog it. I think its Ive not done as much study as I wanted to do in the last couple of weeks. Its combination of things. Im tired from work, it sucks it out of me a bit. And pressure at home dont help as well. So thats not all rosy all the time. Physically, Im not in great shape...‟
  26. 26. Participants - Jack… „Unfortunately I did not do as well I had hoped. I faded badly towards the end of the study program mainly because of time constraints. I was busy up to my eyeballs at work. Plus I had problems to deal with at home. I dont think the problem is I am not smart enough, the problem is finding the time to study while my brain is fresh and not tired‟.
  27. 27. Comments…
  28. 28. Participants – Ursula… 60+ years European 1 paper (unit) College of Education Remote location Employed 3 days
  29. 29. Participants – Ursula… „I would like to continue [participating] but not being able to send the video misses the point of the exercise. It highlights a concern for online learning doesnt it? There are people who dont know the technology well enough to be able to work it with ease.‟
  30. 30. Comments…
  31. 31. Key Questions… 1. How do we nurture a sense of belonging and connectedness amongst distance learners that will help to sustain deep levels of engagement?
  32. 32. Key Questions… 1. How do we nurture a sense of belonging and connectedness amongst distance learners that will help to sustain deep levels of engagement? 2. How do we support distance students to engage effectively with their study amid other commitments; whilst being mindful that, to survive (and thrive) across the distance, they need to be independent, self-motivated learners?
  33. 33. Key Takeaways… 1. Stories „add flesh‟ to the „soft factors‟ of what it means to be a distance learner. 2. Distance learning is perceived to enable tertiary study to fit around other life, work and family commitments but little understanding of the reality of study. 3. Learner stories affirm the importance of the first few weeks of study but evidence of a second critical at risk phase.
  34. 34. Key Takeaways… 4. There is variable digital literacy among first time distance learners which can be a real barrier. 5. Value of supporting opportunities for engaging in regular interaction and reflection over the initial stages of study.
  35. 35. Final Questions… “A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.” Francis Bacon http://www.slideshare.net/mbrownz/ m.e.brown@massey.ac.nz

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