Belonging and Mattering through a Technological Lens - Meeting One Challenge for Open and Distance Learning in 21st Century

Rhonda Leece
University of New England, Australia


The student experience for online and distance learners in Australia has generally been considered from the perspective of ‘study-load’ and separate from the personal, emotional and social context of the student’s ‘life-load’. The case study reported here contributes to the existing body of knowledge by examining the way in which engagement with students at a regional Australian tertiary institution can be developed and maintained by actively listening and responding to the voice of the student through a mixed suite of technological tools. What follows is not concerned with statistical analyses, nor is it focused on engagement and retention in relation to specific disciplines or courses. Instead, it presents one component of a larger study designed to develop a greater understanding of the nuances of the lived experience of student engagement. This work aims to understand the role that technology can play in the developing the emotional dimensions of belonging and mattering as experienced by students who are dislocated from their campus.

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