Studies in Learning, Evaluation, Innovation and Development > Vol. 7, No. 3 (2010)

Learning relationships in online contexts: An educational response to declining rates of participation and a means of support for undergraduate students

Dolene M Rossi, CQU, SEH, LTERC

Abstract

There is current concern about the declining rates of participation in higher education in regional and remote areas of Australia. Online contexts are acknowledged to offer an educational domain unique in their potential for interaction, participation and collaboration. The potential of online education as a means of enhancing the learning opportunities of those living in regional, rural and remote areas is recognised by Government and educational institutions. However, despite significant investment, the adoption of online delivery and online learning within the higher education sector is variable and under-represented in undergraduate programs. This paper draws from a research study which examined the processes of, and the relationship between, learner-learner interaction and knowledge construction in online learning contexts, within a single cohort of undergraduate students. Based on the results of the analyses a substantive theory explaining the conditions, actions, interactions and consequences of learning relationships in online contexts was constructed. Within this paper the results of the study are utilised to illustrate the concept and to explore whether learning relationships, in online contexts, offer a means with which to address declining rates of participation in higher education in regional and remote areas.

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