(Poster) Supporting students we may never meet: challenges and strategies

Lindsey Robb and Ruth Mitchell (School of Nursing, Midwifery & Social Care)

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This poster identifies some challenges that educators may encounter when supporting distance learners, and explores strategies that have been found to be effective in the context of online postgraduate modules. Drawing on experience of teaching Masters level child protection courses online, some common challenges that students face are identified. These include potential isolation, managing work/study/life balance, and technological difficulties. In addition, some students exhibit behaviours which suggest that they find it difficult to commit consistently to the online discussions, while others find difficulty in posting even a single contribution.

Educators have a duty of care to provide emotional and practical support for students (Edinburgh Napier University 2012). Whilst a variety of academic and personal support mechanisms are available, there is nevertheless a responsibility on module leaders to enable students to maximise the learning opportunities available in the online learning environment. If online learning is indeed the way forward in education, then educators must strive to find effective and innovative techniques to promote active engagement within this environment by all students. Such approaches will undoubtedly have a financial implication, and it could be argued that there is a moral obligation to share knowledge and skills across the University to make the most effective use of resources.

This poster illustrates some of the strategies used by the team to address and overcome challenges, thereby contributing to such sharing of knowledge.

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