Distance learners: Connected, mobile and resourceful individuals
In recent years the student experience of higher education in general and distance education in particular has been strongly influenced by the wide scale uptake of Internet based learning approaches and an expanding distance education market, amongst many other trends. As competition within the sector increases because of access to the WWW and other in-country socio-political influences, the push to attract and retain students is becoming a key issue for institutions. Understanding the distance student’s voice in relation to these trends and developing appropriate responses to ensure a satisfactory learning experience is of critical importance. This paper reports on a recently completed study that explored the distance learners’ experience at one dual-mode Australian institution. The paper outlines a rationale for investigating the student voice to meet the unique needs of the distance learner. It describes the approaches that were adopted to undertake the research and discusses some of the main themes that emerged from the study – individualness, connectedness, quality, mobility, and resourcefulness. The paper concludes with considerations for policy and practice in relation to utilising the distance learners’ voice in enhancing distance leaners’ experiences.
Australasian Journal of Educational Technology