Using e-Learning Tools to Build a Community of Distance Learners: A Progress Review and Call for Collaboration.

Conference paper

Belgrove, Martin, Griffin, Julia and Makepeace, Brian 2008. Using e-Learning Tools to Build a Community of Distance Learners: A Progress Review and Call for Collaboration. Reading Academic Publishing International (API). pp. 90-96
AuthorsBelgrove, Martin, Griffin, Julia and Makepeace, Brian
TypeConference paper

The paper is an interim progress statement of a two year research project into how a higher education institution may develop online student support systems that effectively help build a community of distance learners. In doing so it seeks to investigate means of creating and maintaining learner social presence, similar attention is paid to the provision of non-academic support of learners and engendering a sense of identity and belonging to their learning community.
Drawing together theoretical and practical perspectives the paper is of interest to those engaged in supporting online learners. It looks how online collaboration and communication tools may be deployed to create a social community within online learners.
The paper recognises that non-academic support plays an essential role in setting the quality of student experience within distance learning and therefore is crucial to optimising success and retention rates. The utilisation of online technologies potentially permits institutions to prevent isolation amongst distance learners and narrow the gap between the experience of on-campus and off-campus students through increased sense of community and belonging.
We explore the work of the project to date in doing so it identifies the context of the project, the strategic importance and the rationale for conducting research into the key areas of investigation. We present the findings of the literature review and the preliminary research findings looking at usage and participation including barriers to participation and requirements for effective support identified by learners. This aspect looks at identified usage trends of existing facilities and looks at student perceptions of existing provision and the nature of support systems they would like to see incorporated.
We then outline future research activity in the provision of appropriate student support mechanisms and the measurement of their effectiveness along with the attendant project tasks set within the timescale. The project also represents an opportunity to seek collaborative exploration of the issues in conjunction with national and international partner higher education institutions.
The paper is of interest to practitioners engaged in supporting online learners along with those involved in the provision of distance learning based higher education, particularly those concerned with programme design and those responsible for the non academic support of distance learners.

KeywordsSocial learning; Learning community; Elearning community; distance learning; learner support
PublisherAcademic Publishing International (API)
Accepted author manuscript
Publication dates
Publication process dates
Deposited01 Feb 2010
Book titleProceedings of the 7th European Conference on eLearning (ECEL 2008)
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Additional information

Belgrove, M. et al (2008) ‘Using e-Learning Tools to Build a Community of Distance Learners: A Progress Review and Call for Collaboration.’ In: Proceedings of the 7th European Conference on eLearning (ECEL 2008), Reading: Academic Publishing Limited, pp. 90-96..

Place of publicationReading
Page range90-96
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