About this paper

Appears in:
Page: 4861 (abstract only)
Publication year: 2013
ISBN: 978-84-616-3822-2
ISSN: 2340-1117

Conference name: 5th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 1-3 July, 2013
Location: Barcelona, Spain

ENHANCING DISTANCE LEARNERS ENGAGEMENT USING VIRTUAL CLASSROOMS

J. O'Flaherty

University of South Australia (AUSTRALIA)
Supporting student engagement is challenging at the best of times but it is becoming increasingly difficult to engage external (off-campus) students with course materials even with the proliferation of online learning technology. With the increase of technology via computers, laptops, tablets and mobile devices it is necessary for higher education to keep pace with new ways of delivering teaching across multiple mediums and for multiple offerings (on-campus, off-campus, online and overseas).Over the last three years, the University of South Australia (UniSA) has implemented a new Learning Management System (LMS) that incorporates websites, lecture podcasting, online assessment submission, online assessment marking, online plagiarism, online evaluation, ePortfolio and virtual classroom tools.

In 2010 just under one million (81%) of higher education students in Australia were studying internally (on-campus), 12% were external (off-campus) and the remaining 7% were multi-modal (distance or online delivery). The external and multi-modal students add up to 19% of student intake. That number is increasing as student’s demand more flexibility in higher education. The current study is concerned primarily with Nursing and Midwifery students who have elected to study distantly (externally) through either UniSA.
The role of the off-campus learner to become an online or e-learner is more prevalent as technology becomes commonplace. But what is e-learning? There are many definitions of e-learning in the literature. Despite the differences in wording, there is one clear theme – e-learning is about supporting student learning. The main focus of this paper is to discuss the support of distance student learning through various mediums, tools and initiatives.

Supporting nursing and midwifery students’ learning is not as easy as nursing and midwifery students come from particularly diverse cultural, linguistic and educational backgrounds. In 2012, first year nursing student’s demographics (> 600 students) showed that these students enter with a relatively low Australian Tertiary Admission Ranking (65.70 internal; 65.40 external), and up to 40% of these students have never studied biology at a secondary school level (year 10-12). Mature aged students (>31 years) comprise 30% of the cohort, report anxiety about not having studied for many years and worry about how they will maintain the study workload. Consequently, for many nursing students the academic demands of the compulsory Bioscience courses (Human Body 1 and 2) prove particularly challenging. This variation in preparedness for science–based courses presents lecturers with the challenge of finding ways of improving each students learning experience and minimising levels of anxiety. This anxiety can have a negative impact on student engagement and increase attrition rates with consequential long-term implications for society such as loss of skills and knowledge among the work force.
In order to overcome these challenges a number of innovative learning initiatives were developed and introduced into external first year Bioscience courses over a number of years. The initiatives discussed include: Developing and implementing flexible, supportive online resources including case studies based on real-world nursing concepts, the use of virtual classrooms, and recognising student achievement and providing student academic support through a Student Coaching Scheme.
@InProceedings{OFLAHERTY2013ENH,
author = {O'Flaherty, J.},
title = {ENHANCING DISTANCE LEARNERS ENGAGEMENT USING VIRTUAL CLASSROOMS},
series = {5th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN13 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-616-3822-2},
issn = {2340-1117},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {1-3 July, 2013},
year = {2013},
pages = {4861}}
TY - CONF
AU - J. O'Flaherty
TI - ENHANCING DISTANCE LEARNERS ENGAGEMENT USING VIRTUAL CLASSROOMS
SN - 978-84-616-3822-2/2340-1117
PY - 2013
Y1 - 1-3 July, 2013
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 5th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN13 Proceedings
SP - 4861
EP - 4861
ER -
J. O'Flaherty (2013) ENHANCING DISTANCE LEARNERS ENGAGEMENT USING VIRTUAL CLASSROOMS, EDULEARN13 Proceedings, p. 4861.
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