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Title: Isolation in distance learning and its effects on learners: can written assignment feedback play a remedial role?
Authors: Μαλιωτάκη, Δέσποινα
Advisor: Κάλφογλου, Χριστίνα
Keywords: isolation;transactional distance;formative;summative;feedback;dialogic feedback;peer feedback;Socio-constructivism;collaborative learning;distance learning
Issue Date: 23-Sep-2017
Abstract: Distance learning programs, planned in way that allows more flexibility in the students’ lives, pare tutor-learner physical contact down to a bare minimum and leave a lot of free space to the learner to act autonomously. This tutor-learner distance, which is more of a space of absence of contact and regular instruction than a geographical one, has been referred to as transactional distance (Moore, 1980), and has been found to generate in distance learners the feeling of isolation. Transactional distance, however, not being geographically bound, is a feature of both campus-based and distance learning programs, and its measure depends on the interplay among three variables: tutor-learner dialogue, course structure and learner autonomy. Isolation in tertiary education distance learning in particular has been blamed for a number of problems (McInnerney & Roberts, 2004; Venter, 2003; Wegerif, 1998), ranging from dissatisfaction to university dropout (Peters, 1992), which makes it difficult for people to achieve their educational and academic goals. At the same time, written assignment feedback is the predominant ingredient of the tutor-learner dialogue and the structure of a distance learning course. Giving and receiving written assignment feedback is a formal practice, part of the program’s structure, in which all learners participate. Therefore, if isolation exists in a distance learning program, then written assignment feedback should have a part in it.
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