About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 5503-5509
Publication year: 2017
ISBN: 978-84-697-3777-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2017.2254

Conference name: 9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 3-5 July, 2017
Location: Barcelona, Spain

ENHANCING THE TRANSITIONAL EXPERIENCE OF TAUGHT POSTGRADUATE STUDENTS: A CASE STUDY FROM AN ONLINE DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAMME IN GEOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION SYSTEMS

H. Durham

University of Leeds (UNITED KINGDOM)
Digital and distance-learning courses are on the rise in higher education but are students ready for the challenges that lie ahead? This paper will report on research undertaken to identify perceived gaps that exist between the actual, and desired, digital literacy skills and quantitative data handling capabilities of students starting on a taught postgraduate programme in a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subject - Geographical Information Systems (GIS). The research is exploring some of the challenges of distance learning, focusing particularly on the transitional stage of ‘stepping up’ to a distance learning Master of Science (MSc) course. Drawing on the author’s experience of delivering and managing a successful and internationally-recognized distance learning programme for over 10 years, and on new data collected from an ongoing teaching enhancement project led by the author, the objective of this research is to design, and ultimately develop, a series of discrete online resources that could be made available to the students before they step onto the standard induction and orientation activities of a STEM programme.

What was once viewed as an unconventional route to study in higher education is fast moving towards the conventional. Whether we like it, or not, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS), accredited MOOCS, and online distance learning are all methods of student education that are shifting the traditional parameters of university study. More and more universities are seeing the potential of distance learning as a means to broaden their teaching portfolio and expand student numbers, even when the infrastructure that makes up the physical university is full to capacity.

The University of Leeds is one such institution that has an ongoing commitment to distance learning and the University's School of Geography is certainly no stranger to distance learning as a mode of delivery having offered an MSc in GIS, in collaboration with the University of Southampton, for almost 15 years.

An online distance learning programme offers students the flexibility to keep many aspects of their lives at a status quo whilst gaining a qualification, but it does come with challenges for students as they adapt to this different approach to study. But there are hurdles and lessons to be learnt for the educators too; guiding the student through their learning experience whilst getting to know a student, their capacities, their enthusiasms and their weaknesses is more tricky when a student potentially never steps foot in the UK, Leeds or the University.

Admission to a taught postgraduate programme is not necessarily based on academic qualifications alone. Prior work experience can sometimes tip the balance in favour of a student who is not considered a ‘standard entry’. As a result, the diverse academic, cultural and experiential backgrounds of incoming students means that the transition to master’s level study can be a gentle incline or a more uneven step. For those choosing to study online, and at a distance, experience has shown that the transition can be quite a rocky step and sometimes more early nurturing is required. Experience, and initial findings from the teaching enhancement project, would suggest that providing pre-sessional resources may be a way to help these students on their first step towards a successful postgraduate degree.
@InProceedings{DURHAM2017ENH,
author = {Durham, H.},
title = {ENHANCING THE TRANSITIONAL EXPERIENCE OF TAUGHT POSTGRADUATE STUDENTS: A CASE STUDY FROM AN ONLINE DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAMME IN GEOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION SYSTEMS},
series = {9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN17 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-697-3777-4},
issn = {2340-1117},
doi = {10.21125/edulearn.2017.2254},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/edulearn.2017.2254},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {3-5 July, 2017},
year = {2017},
pages = {5503-5509}}
TY - CONF
AU - H. Durham
TI - ENHANCING THE TRANSITIONAL EXPERIENCE OF TAUGHT POSTGRADUATE STUDENTS: A CASE STUDY FROM AN ONLINE DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAMME IN GEOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION SYSTEMS
SN - 978-84-697-3777-4/2340-1117
DO - 10.21125/edulearn.2017.2254
PY - 2017
Y1 - 3-5 July, 2017
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN17 Proceedings
SP - 5503
EP - 5509
ER -
H. Durham (2017) ENHANCING THE TRANSITIONAL EXPERIENCE OF TAUGHT POSTGRADUATE STUDENTS: A CASE STUDY FROM AN ONLINE DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAMME IN GEOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION SYSTEMS, EDULEARN17 Proceedings, pp. 5503-5509.
User:
Pass: