Reducing the effects of isolation and promoting inclusivity for distance learners through podcasting

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This article reports on an initiative to explore the potential of using supplementary audio podcast material to reduce the anxiety caused by isolation and to promote a sense of inclusivity amongst both undergraduate and postgraduate students studying an information technology subject in external mode with Australia's largest provider of distance education. The podcasts were structured as a series of short, 3 to 5 minute talkback radio-style segments, with senior students holding discussions on pertinent issues related to the subject and its content in a relaxed and informal style. Both quantitative and qualitative data was obtained through a web-based survey conducted at the end of semester to gain insight into the views, experiences and perceived learning value of the podcasts from the perspective of the student listeners. Findings suggest that the approach was largely successful in achieving its aforementioned aims. In addition, the student listeners saw the podcasts as being especially effective in clarifying and enhancing their understanding of the subject; providing backup/reinforcement of what they had learnt; as well as supplying guidance on the direction in which to channel their study efforts. Overall, the authors believe podcasting has tremendous potential to assist in acculturating distance learners and aiding them in moving towards complete social and academic integration into institutional life, despite the presence of physical separation. The authors' future research plans are also briefly outlined.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-104
Number of pages20
JournalTurkish Online Journal of Distance Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2007


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