Learning online together: Recruiting participants for research about reflective practice

Year: 2018

Author: Fleming, Josephine

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This presentation discusses the challenges of recruiting participant students for the online learning program in the second phase of our research. It also reflects on the relationship between online and on-campus learning.
The major challenge faced in recruitment for the online modules was a low take-up rate coupled with a highdropout rate. Some who did commit and who were interviewed following their participation commented on their struggle with the isolation of online learning.
Perhaps paradoxically the recruitment for the program was turned around in two of the research sites when a communal space was found for the students to be online together. These sessions were at set times and gave participants the opportunity to talk and reflect with each other as they worked through the online material. In interviews following the sessions the participants spoke of the value of the shared experience.
The experience led this researcher to reflect on the work of Sherry Turkle and her decades long investigation into our evolving relationship with digital technology and culture. Our increasing privileging of digital technology in education has emphasised its distributed capabilities often tied to the financial gains to be made in ‘up-scaling’ our courses and communication from on-campus to online. Here is a case where participants showed more willingness to access the multi-modal affordances that support online learning when they were in a ‘live’ communal space that supports shared understanding.
Have we reached a moment where as educators we need to discuss, to borrow Turkle’s phrase, reclaiming conversation?