On­line learn­ing has a friendly hu­man face

THE (Times Higher Education) - - LETTERS -

We ap­plaud Paul Le Blanc’s recog­ni­tion of the “over­looked ma­jor­ity” of stu­dents who carry work, fam­ily and other re­spon­si­bil­i­ties with them into their aca­demic lives (“There is noth­ing im­per­sonal about on­line learn­ing”, Opin­ion, 20 De­cem­ber). As lec­tur­ers who have been de­liv­er­ing on­line MSc cour­ses at the Univer­sity of Cen­tral Lan­cashire for more than 12 years, we con­cur that it is pos­si­ble to have mean­ing­ful in­ter­ac­tions with our on­line stu­dents.

Our cour­ses such as the MSc in Sus­tain­abil­ity, Health and Well­be­ing use a com­bi­na­tion of on­line ma­te­ri­als, syn­chro­nous fa­cil­i­tated dis­cus­sion ses­sions, asyn­chro­nous dis­cus­sion boards and one-to-one tu­to­ri­als over Skype to de­liver a rounded learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

While this may miss the usual per­cep­tions of the so­cial side of life on cam­pus, im­por­tantly it does fit in with stu­dents’ lives and gives ac­cess to learn­ing that might oth­er­wise be un­avail­able while still en­abling stu­dents to be­come part of a dy­namic learn­ing com­mu­nity. Jean Duck­worth

Hazel Partington

Univer­sity of Cen­tral Lan­cashire

At the Open Univer­sity, we too do a lot to pro­vide stu­dents with a com­mu­nity peer learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence – to their sur­prise. They seem to ex­pect to have just a com­puter to in­ter­act with. When I phone my stu­dents to in­tro­duce my­self, there is often a pause at the start of our con­ver­sa­tion as they ab­sorb the news that there is a hu­man be­ing who will guide them through their stud­ies.

ANLec­turer

Via timeshigh­ere­d­u­ca­tion.com

It is pos­si­ble to have mean­ing­ful in­ter­ac­tions with our on­line stu­dents, mak­ing them part of a com­mu­nity

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