Theory and Practice of Distance Education

By Börje Holmberg | Go to book overview

6

INTERACTION BETWEEN STUDENTS AND THE SUPPORTING ORGANIZATION
The importance of a kind of simulated communication and conversation-like approach has been stressed above in the discussion of the first of the two constituent elements of distance education: learning-matter presentation. For the second constituent element, real communication in the form of interaction between tutors and students, much of what was said on pp. 45-55 is relevant.Empathy and rapport between tutors and students remain important guidelines. This applies to both contiguous (i.e. face-to-face) interaction and non-contiguous (i.e. mediated communication).
THE FUNCTIONS OF COMMUNICATION
The purposes of two-way communication in distance education are generally as follows:
1 To support students' motivation and interest by contact with an encouraging tutor and counsellor.
2 To support and facilitate student learning by students applying knowledge and skills acquired to tasks to be checked by and discussed with tutors as well as by tutors' comments, explanations and suggestions.
3 To give students opportunities to develop their thinking while benefiting from tutors' criticism.
4 To assess students' progress in order to provide them with an instrument by means of which they can judge their educational situation and needs, and by means of which marks can be awarded; the assessment of students' progress and the contact with them are also evaluation elements used more or less sys-

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