Online Distance Learning in Biomedical Sciences: Community, Belonging and Presence
In higher education (HE), distance learning (DL) has increased worldwide. Many educational establishments have embraced online distance learning (ODL), with online courses being delivered by a great number of institutions, ranging from community colleges to major universities world-wide. Distance learning (DL) is not a new concept, it dates as far back as the eighteenth century as a means of providing access to those who would otherwise not be able to participate in face-to-face educational courses.
Traditional DL courses lacked interactivity and the emergence of computers and the internet provided the opportunity for learners to undertake online distance learning (ODL). Many ODL students are biomedical professionals juggling work and family commitments, and therefore the ability to study at a time and place that suits them allows them to engage in learning that they otherwise would not be able to do without relocating. However, whilst ODL offers greater learning opportunities, the lack of campus time and face-to-face learning contact can result in learners feeling isolated.
The article below discusses community building and promoting a sense of belonging and presence in online learning.