Landing : Athabascau University

'Flat-pack' students need help with isolation

Australia is looking at the potential of the global higher education market, learners who could be served through online high-quality degree programs. The question the author of the article asks is whether Australia can provide entire degrees at a MOOC-like scale, cost and quality? The concern is that learners in such programs will be isolated and be at risk of dropping out of their degree program. This is also a concern for AU though we offer courses with lower enrollments than most MOOCs our students can feel isolated and disconnected from the university. The answer for massively scaled up course and degree programs for the author of the article is to set up online communities that bring learners together with mentors and other students. Another suggestion is that virtual teams of teachers need to be available as well. AU has a head start in providing quality education for online distance learners but we should never forget the importance of ensuring that learners have a sense of connection to the institution, have opportunities to interact with other learners and with thought leaders in their field of study (faculty, instructors, others) who can help them on the path to lifelong learning and success in their chosen field.

 

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