Barriers to blended digital distance vocational learning for non-traditional students

Safford, Kimberly and Stinton, Julia (2016). Barriers to blended digital distance vocational learning for non-traditional students. British Journal of Educational Technology, 47(1) pp. 135–150.



This research identifies and examines the challenges of blending digital distance and vocational learning for non-traditional and low-socio-economic status students who are new to university education. A survey of students in vocational primary education and early years qualifications in a distance university is illuminated by interviews with individual students and video diaries recorded by them during module study. Barriers to study include where and when to go online, finding support for digital study, navigating virtual learning environments and knowing what is relevant, variable or no technologies in the workplace, making connections between workplace technologies and ICT for study, and storing and organising digital information. As university education goes increasingly online, the research aims to improve institutional awareness and provision for widening participation. The research findings suggest practical changes to ameliorate experiences of digital distance vocational learning and by these means to improve student retention, progression and completion.

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