Sociological insights in structuring Australian distance education

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter


Sociology is well-known for analyzing institutions and social change (Holmes, Hughes & Julian, 2007). Yet, a dearth of sociological research explores technology and distance education (DE) despite imperatives to include cultural issues (Lum, 2006, Jorgensen, 2002). Meta-analysis shows social studies scholars fail to prioritize technological research (Marri, 2007). Sociologists have examined web-based instruction and anxiety levels (Gundy, Morton, Liu & Kline, 2006), flaming (Lee, 2005) and the relationship between learning environment, pedagogy, social roles, relations (Jaffee, 2003) and unintended benefits of traditional classrooms using DE (Edwards, Cordray & Dorbolo, 2000). This qualitative exploratory research looks at asynchronous forum (AF) and DE student experiences in Australia. Using social constructivism, learning is seen as praxis, or doing (Vygotsky, 1986) in contrast with ancient traditionalists' tabula rasa/'blank slate' understanding of learners waiting to be filled with knowledge (Palloff & Pratt, 2001). Case studies show how culture and learning environments affect virtual communication (VC) when all communication, student-teacher and student-student, is technologically mediated. Experiences from 4 cohorts (2005 & 2006) show how social structure facilitates variation in student perceptions' of learning, satisfaction and agency.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Information Science & Technology
Place of PublicationUnited States
PublisherInformation Science Reference
Number of pages7
Edition2nd ed. / 559
ISBN (Print)9781605660264
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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