Technologies are an “absolute lifeline” for our students!

Blackboard Collaborate and discussion forums help build community and meet students’ emotional and learning needs.

Readers of this Learning Edge blog will be familiar with our Best of TEL series, where we invite colleagues from across the university to guest author posts about their practice, to inform and inspire others. This post has a guest author, but is slightly different, as this time we hear from one of our recent graduates.

Lisa Corcoran, a student on the BA (Hons) Teaching, Learning and Mentoring Practice in 2012-13 and talks about her experience of the TMP3000 Work-Based Research module which incorporated the use of discussion forums and weekly webinars via Blackboard Collaborate:

“Distance learning for me was a very isolating experience, TMP3000 was the final milestone of a long and arduous journey. At times the daily slog of work, family and study seemed relentless with no light at the end of the tunnel. I was at the end of four years study and had found communication a barrier in most of the other modules I had completed.

I think universities who offer distance learning don’t always consider these emotional factors, Edge Hill certainly offered great resources in terms of its library postal service, taster days and written material. But nothing compares to human contact and being able to have that reassurance that you are on the right track.

Whilst completing TMP3000 my feelings are that the communication and support was outstanding and as a learning community we all came together in the final hour though the discussion boards and the webinar to support each other. That learning community was only facilitated because of those discussion boards and webinars, for some people it was an absolute lifeline and the importance should not be underestimated as very important emotional needs and learning needs were met daily on those discussion boards.

On a personal note the webinar sessions were most helpful, the experience I was having with distance learning was very abstract and the webinar made it a concrete tangible process which brought about a change in my state of mind that yes I was on the right track, yes other people were feeling the same way and yes there was somebody there (David) to reaffirm I wasn’t going mad.

I cannot emphasise how important it was for me to take part in live discussions without the misinterpretation of email and the long text, to be able to speak rather than type a question and be part of a discussion with real live people. The experience for me was absolutely invaluable on every level and absolutely without a doubt was a contributing factor to achieving a first class honours.”

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Lisa’s story powerfully illustrates the positive effect that technology can have.  Her words describe how the use of technologies, and particularly the web conferencing tool, helped connect her with her fellow students and tutor, and offered ‘human contact’, which addressed her need for emotional support during learning.

At Edge Hill we have built up a critical mass of good practice that can be accessed by staff who are thinking of incorporating these technologies into their courses. If you have been inspired and would like to learn more your Learning Technologist can help.

You are also invited to join a Developing Digital Excellence staff development session:

…and you have access to a wide range of user guides on eShare:

If you enjoyed this post, you might also be interested in some of our previous Best of TEL guest entries: