A Framework for Supporting Adults in Distance Learning

Dowling, Linda and Ryan, Orna (2007) A Framework for Supporting Adults in Distance Learning. pp. 83-89. ISSN 0790-8040, 0790-8040


In recent years, many traditional Higher Education Institutes (HEI's) have been seeking to increase the participation of non-traditional learners. In the context of this paper, traditional institutions are those which mainly offer programmes on a full-time day basis for school leavers and non-traditional learners are mature learners, returning to education on a part-time distance learning basis. Distance learning can generally be differentiated from other methods of teaching and learning by virtue of the fact that geographical distance separates the learner and teacher with materials and/or various technologies used to deliver these programmes. The increase in the number of non-traditional learners calls for innovative and complementary academic and administrative support strategies designed to meet the unique needs of these learners. Typically, learner support services within traditional institutions are provided by a diverse range of offices. It can be argued that the needs of adult learners can best be planned, designed and managed at the level of the programme. This paper presents a case study of how the features of effective learner support have been implemented by University College Dublin (UCD) in the case of its distance learning business degree programme. The case study presented is of a programme established 10 years ago and where the learner support system has evolved becoming increasingly sophisticated in its design over time.

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