Distance Education Information Sheet

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Distance education
Definition
Educational experiences which are offered to students who are never or rarely “on site”.
Distance education often involves the use of online learning, but it includes a wider range of
issues related to student experiences of teaching and learning where students may be in
remote, distant locations or who may not be physically at the University campuses regularly.
Rationale
 Widening participation for certain groups, for example:
o those disabled students who might find travel problematic
o students with caring responsibilities
o students on low incomes who live at home and at a distance
 Providing new possibilities for internationalisation
 Enhancing opportunities for lifelong learning
How



Flexible timetabling to accommodate students in employment or in different time
zones
Taking advantage of the unique possibilities of networked learning, rather than trying
to replicate face-to-face teaching
Making use of the ways in which networked learning can facilitate sharing of student
work and more open feedback from peers and teachers
Implications for programme and course design
 Carefully consider students’ prior experiences of distance education and what
support will be required for them to make a successful transition
 Put particular emphasis on early formative feedback to enhance student engagement
 Give careful consideration to the social integration of students who will not meet in
person
 Provide greater structure for learning activities than might be necessary in classroom
based teaching
 Create a course design that requires all students to participate actively early in the
course
 Bear in mind that distance education work tends to ‘front-load’ the demands on staff
time, more advanced preparation is needed than for face-to-face teaching
Examples
Below are some innovative online learning examples taking place in a public arena so you
can see how staff and students are contributing. These are not all distance education
examples but all use strategies suitable for distance education:
http://www.netvibes.com/wesch#Digital_Ethnography
http://digitalculture-ed.net/
http://www.landow.com/
Summary of good practice arising from Periodic Subject Review (PSR, formerly DPTLA)
which includes references to blended, online and distance learning
http://www.gla.ac.uk/services/senateoffice/qea/psr/
Resources
A rich resource collection from the International Centre for Distance Learning:
http://icdl.open.ac.uk/
Guidance on Learning and Technology from the Learning and Teaching Centre:
http://www.gla.ac.uk/services/learningteaching/goodpracticeresources/learningandtechnolog
y/
Guidance on the use of the Moodle virtual learning environment:
http://www.gla.ac.uk/services/learningteaching/learningtools/moodle/
Good reports on the use of Web 2.0 tools in education:
http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/techwatch/tsw0701b.pdf
http://www.tlrp.org/pub/documents/TELcomm.pdf
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