Nurturing supportive and engaging induction environments for distance learning students.
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MARTZOUKOU, K. and KEMP. V. 2016. Nurturing supportive and engaging induction environments for distance-learning students. Procedia: social and behavioral sciences [online], 228, Proceedings of the 2nd international conference on higher education advances (HEAd'16), 21-23 June 2016, València, Spain, pages 535-540. Available from: https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2016.07.082
Distance learning (DL) students typically learn with very limited or no requirements for physical presence and this often means that learning may be perceived as a more isolating or less 'natural' experience. Postgraduate (PG) DL students are particularly vulnerable as mature students with working and family commitments who require more support in their transition to a DL PG study, having experienced a longer break in education. This paper presents the main findings of a survey of 82 students and semi-structured interviews with 11 students studying at the Robert Gordon University (Aberdeen, Scotland). The research explored their expectations and challenges encountered in transitioning to a DL PG study across a number of different subject areas. The study found that the online induction process should meet a variety of expectations and needs, focusing primarily on academic and social aspects. DL study can be an isolating experience, which can be made less alienating when there is a chance for students to get to know their peers and teaching staff. An inclusive approach to online induction geared towards flexible support and interactive, engaging content is an important consideration.