Developing online communities to support distance learning in secure environments.
In: 7th International Conference on Education and Information Systems, Technologies and Applications: EISTA 2009, 10-13 Jul 2009, Orlando, Florida, USA.
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The UK Open University (OU) has successfully provided Higher Education (HE), through distance learning to students in prison, almost since its inception. This paper uses results from a recent qualitative study to discuss the learning process in a secure environment. It argues that the soft skills developed during the self-directed distance learning process are identity forming and discusses the social elements which support the learning. It highlights the major barriers to learning including the lack of access to the internet and explains two possible solutions which are being trialed to bridge the digital divide. It then introduces many of support networks and online learning communities which are developing within and around secure
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