Redefining services to distance learners: what’s in a name?

Tyers, Karen (2007) Redefining services to distance learners: what’s in a name? Sconul Focus, 40 . pp. 84-88.

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Traditionally, the term ‘distance learner’ specified the distinct category of students who studied at a distance from the university or college at which they were registered. Enrolled on designated distance learning courses, and identified as distance learners on the student records system, they were entitled to specialist services such as postal loans. Today, however, the student learning experience is changing. Remote access to information and communication across geographical boundaries enables institutions of higher education to offer flexible modes of study by means of online and independent learning. Thus they are able to include in their increasing and diverse student population many non-traditional learners of different backgrounds and personal circumstances, including part-timers, mature entrants, international students and learners ‘studying at a distance’. For a variety of reasons, whether family obligations, work commitments, time constraints or geographical location, many of our learners may rarely be present on campus. They may have little or no in-person contact with staff and may never attend formal classes, or visit the library, making the concept of the traditional ‘campus-based student’ less relevant to higher education institutions. As the proportion of students not physically present on campuses increases, the balance between ‘off-’ and ‘on-campus’ students also changes. Consequently, it becomes necessary to redefine what we mean by the term ‘distance learner’, so that library services, and the manner in which we provide them, offer the same benefits to all learners. These services must meet – and exceed –the information needs of all our learners, whether they are on- or off-campus.

Item Type: Article
Journal / Publication Title: Sconul Focus
Publisher: Society of College National and University Libraries
ISSN: 1745-5790
Departments: Professional Services > Information Services
Depositing User: Insight Administrator
Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2010 16:04
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2024 20:01


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