Year: 1990

Author: Zelmer, Amy E.

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Individuals involved in distance education are prone to think that electronic communications can be used to enhance the student's involvement in a course taught by distance education methods. Enthusiasts often assume that since they personally have access to and enjoy using such electronic communications resources, there would be value in using these tools. This study is an initial attempt to investigate the electronic resources currently available to students in one distance education program, the students' willingness to use learning strategies which call for electronic media and to suggest some directions for future development. UCCQ has approximately 3,200 full-time-equivalent students (4,500 individuals), and a major commitment to distance education (external degrees). It serves a widely-scattered student population primarily from Queensland but also increasingly from other areas of the country. UCCQ and other tertiary institutions have co-operated to set up joint study centres in many of the country towns and smaller cities throughout Queensland, but approximately one- third of the students live more than one hour's driving time away from the nearest study centre. For many students driving to a study centre to have access to equipment can still be a major time factor. The Bachelor of Health Science (Nursing) program was first offered in 1987 and is available only by part-time external study. By definition, all students in this program are registered nurses; the vast majority are female and they range in age from early twenties to late fifties. For most students this will be their first experience with external studies. Because they are often juggling the competing demands of work, family responsibilities and community participation as well as study, any logistical difficulties which they have in obtaining access to study materials or equipment adds a considerable burden to their already heavy workload.