Online distance learning in biomedical sciences: community, belonging and presence

Crow, J. and Murray, J.-A. (2020) Online distance learning in biomedical sciences: community, belonging and presence. In: Rea, P. M. (ed.) Biomedical Visualisation, Volume 6. Series: Advances in experimental medicine and biology (1235). Springer: Cham, pp. 165-178. ISBN 9783030376383 (doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-37639-0_10)

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In higher education (HE), distance learning (DL) has increased worldwide. Many educational establishments have embraced online distance learning (ODL), with online courses being delivered by a great number of institutions, ranging from community colleges to major universities world-wide. Distance learning (DL) is not a new concept (Keegan D. Theoretical principles of distance education, London, Routledge, 1993), it dates as far back as the eighteenth century as a means of providing access to those who would otherwise not be able to participate in face-to-face educational courses. Traditional DL courses lacked interactivity and the emergence of computers and the internet provided the opportunity for learners to undertake online distance learning (ODL). Many ODL students are biomedical professionals juggling work and family commitments, and therefore the ability to study at a time and place that suits them allows them to engage in learning that they otherwise would not be able to do without relocating. However, whilst ODL offers greater learning opportunities, the lack of campus time and face-to-face learning contact can result in learners feeling isolated. Knowledge is constructed in the midst of interactions with others and is shaped by the skills and abilities valued in a particular culture. Thus, the teacher plays a key role in this learning process in shaping the leaning activities and supporting the development of knowledge and understanding. Therefore, it can be said that the role of the ODL instructor differs from that associated with traditional on-campus education. The instructor becomes the facilitator to support student learning, whilst the student actively participates in what and how knowledge is imparted. Consequently, students studying online are often required to take on a greater responsibility for their own learning. They learn more independently than the on-campus students, as they cannot just simply follow what the other students are doing, they must log into the VLE as a solitary initiative and interact with fellow students and their tutor of their own accords, this chapter looks at how presence and belonging can be supported in ODL as well as supporting staff and students to transition to ODL.

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Crow, Miss Jenny and Murray, Professor Jo-Anne
Authors: Crow, J., and Murray, J.-A.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Published Online:03 June 2020

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