Stress, Disruption and Community -
Adult Learners' Experiences of Obstacles and Opportunities in Distance Education

Berit Östlund [Berit.ostlund@educ.umu.se]
Department of Child and Youth Education, Special Education and Counselling
Umeå University [http://www.umu.se]
SE-90187 Umeå
Sweden

English Abstract

The main purpose of this study was to describe, analyze and understand adult distance learners' experiences of obstacles and opportunities that influence their studying and learning. Many researchers in educational science, in Scandinavia today, state that knowledge is constructed through collaboration between the individual and the social surroundings, where language and communication between individuals are basic elements. Thus, another purpose was to investigate the learners' experiences of the effects the fellow students had on their studying and learning. The results are based on diaries from 33 adult distance learners, participating in a full-time introduction course in a teacher education program. The results show that most of learners found that it was difficult to combine labor and domestic life with fulltime studies. Many learners also expressed difficulties due to their lack of experience with distance learning. They reported that they have had problems in structuring and organizing their studies. Almost all learners emphasised the importance of peer learners for their feeling of satisfaction, social support and support regarding the interpretations of the assignments. The interaction affected satisfaction and motivation for most of the learners. Some of them also indicated that postings from classmates affected their self confidence. Since those are essential elements in the learning process, the interaction amongst learners indirectly supported their learning process.

Swedish Abstract

Huvudsyftet med studien var att beskriva, analysera och förstå vuxna distansstudenters erfarenheter av hinder och möjligheter som påverkar deras studier och lärande. Flera av dagens ledande forskare i pedagogik menar att kunskap konstrueras i samverkan mellan individen och dennes sociala omgivning. Ett annat syfte var därför att undersöka hur studenterna upplevde kurskamraters betydelse för studier och lärande. Resultatet baseras på dagböcker från 33 distansstudenter, under en 13 veckors introduktionskurs inom lärarutbildningen. Kursen gavs på helfart. Resultatet visar att studenterna ansåg det vara svårt att kombinera arbete och familjeliv med studier på hel fart. Många av studenterna uttryckte svårigheter beroende på studie ovana, som bl.a visade sig i att de hade svårt att strukturera och organisera sina studier. I stort sett alla studenter ansåg kurskamrater var viktiga i den meningen att de gav socialt stöd och stöd för att förstå innebörden i olika uppgifter. Interaktionen hade en positiv inverkan på deras känsla av tillfredsällelse och motivation. Några menade också att kurskamraternas bidrag påverkade självförtroendet. Eftersom dessa är viktiga element för lärandet kan man säga att, interaktionen mellan studenterna indirekt stödde lärprocessen.

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Tags

e-learning, distance learning, distance education, online learning, higher education, DE, blended learning, ICT, information and communication technology, internet, collaborative learning, learning management system, MOOC, interaction, LMS,

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