Edited by John Ishiyama, William J. Miller and Eszter Simon
Chapter 5: Distance and online course design
As today’s students arrive at university, one of the first things they will do, without thought to what they might consider their ‘learning’, is to exchange a raft of information with their peers – through various forms of social media. This means that they will be online, communicating with each other before they arrive at their first class. Distance learning (DL) students may never arrive at a ‘classroom’. Yet, whatever the mode of their distance learning delivery, they will almost certainly converse with their peers by some means, probably online, and with equal likelihood beyond the confines of their academic programs. The potential impact on their learning experience is not always fully understood by teachers or more broadly by universities, though there is some exciting work being done in exploring this relationship (Shirky 2013a). As a professor of education wrote in 2005, ‘[i]t is perhaps a chastening thought for teachers and lecturers to think that what we do not consciously plan for may have a more profound influence on our students than all our well-intentioned efforts’ (Humes 2005). While the activities of students in this regard may form a hidden curriculum in higher education, governments responsible for national education policies and university management have increasingly seen both online and distance learning as providing opportunities to manage the costs of tertiary education, broaden participation and facilitate universities’ impact on wider society (Snyder 1970).
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