Learner and teacher electronic relations: experiences of one distance learning health studies programme
European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, 2006/I
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The technological opportunities provided by digital learning environments for electronic communicative transactions between learners and teachers, now common in Higher Education in the United Kingdom (UK) challenge the traditional concept of a learner and teacher relationship. This paper considers electronic interaction between learners and module facilitators and draws on a small study that evaluated the experiences of twenty five post-qualifying health and social care practitioners studying on a BSc (Hons) Health Studies programme. A case study approach was used to explore how learners and module facilitators communicated and interacted using the electronic system as part of their support structure. The aim of the study was to explore in what ways interaction with teachers using electronic communication systems influence the learning confidence of learners studying at a distance.
A key finding of this study indicates that learners and teachers developed close, partnership style relations that confirm interpersonal and social presence in a non-contiguous, technologically mediated learning environment (Morgan 2002). The possibility of developing close relations is explored in this paper in the context of a distance learning programme, a range of contributing factors and outcomes are suggested that represent close learning relations and implications for education practice and future research are discussed.
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