Online Learning: a Student Perspective

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Online Learning: A Student Perspective

Abstract The background of students in higher education is changing from the traditional middle class school-leaver to a complex mix of age, race, gender, ethnicity, socio-economics, and experience. With this complexity of student needs, abilities, experience and expectations comes challenges for academic staff and administration as well as for students which already had great impacts on student performance. Negotiating the steep learning curve for those unfamiliar with computer technology can involve real feelings of anxiety and stress. Coping with unfamiliar study and assessment schedules and the development of the research and writing skills necessary to successful scholarship often means juggling work and family commitments and dealing with accompanying feelings of guilt and frustration. Even those who are deemed free of ‘heavy’ responsibilities can find themselves seriously distracted from their goals as they learn how to cope with new social freedoms and identities. Under such pressures it is not surprising that students may find themselves struggling to cope with feelings of inadequacy and isolation. While online learning can mitigate some of the undesirable consequences of university life in the 21st century such as equity of access for distant or working students, it may also exacerbate other issues. For online learning to be a successful learning technology, its design, implementation and evaluation must involve taking into consideration those social and equity issues that affect the performance of a changing user base. Learners can then truly choose to learn and learn to choose. Keywords

Online learning, Counselling issues, Cognitive load, Interface design, Student performance, Teaching and learning, Mental models Introduction The ‘typical’ university student is no longer a white, male, school-leaver. Age, gender, cultural differences, sexual identity, disability, distance, and skill levels all contribute...
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