Rethinking Learner Support: the challenge of collaborative online learning.
Open Learning, 17(2) pp. 105–119.
The use of computer-mediated communication (CMC) as an integral part of the design of distance taught courses raises interesting challenges to our thinking about course design and learner support. These have typically been conceptualised as two complementary but distinct systems in distance education, characterised by different practices often carried out by different groups of staff. Where CMC is designed as an integral part of the course, with collaborative learning as essential to assessment and study, this separation breaks down. The design of online activities is integral to both learner support and the course content, with new possibilities for open and distance learning as a result. Where the learning group itself is a resource for study and personal development, it also becomes feasible to orientate courses and programmes towards local teams and communities. Online tutors play a key role and need to develop 'the technology of conversation' and expertise in the design of activities, as part of their facilitator role. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
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