New Generation Distributed Learning: Models of connecting students across distance and cultural boundaries
In an age of globalised learning and teaching, university education continues to extend beyond the classroom with students participating in rich learning opportunities designed to provide authentic learning experiences and foster an international perspective. Bridging the geographical divide between on campus, off campus, rural and remote learners has been an ongoing challenge for many universities often resulting in a different learning experience based on the mode of study. The discourse of rurality in this paper, is situated in Reid et al’s (2010) rural social space where learners face specific economic, geographic and demographic issues relative to a particular context. However, this paper will present a model of innovative communication technologies and new generation learning spaces, coined within as “new generation distributed learning classes”, emerging to support learning through video and web conferencing which situates local, rural, distance and overseas learners to participate collaboratively in real-time student-centred learning experiences with diverse student perspectives.
This paper provides an introduction to the new generation of distributed learning and presents three models of distributed learning developed for a multi campus international university. The models are informed by outcomes of a longitudinal research project monitoring the implementation of distributed learning across multiple campuses. The dimensions used to describe new generation distributed learning experiences are also outlined.
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