Ingirige, MJB, Amaratunga, RDG, Sexton, MG, Ahmed, V, Baldry, D and Aouad, G 2004, Guidelines for improving social outcomes gained through distance learning tools , Project Report, University of Salford, Salford, UK. (Unpublished)
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History of distance learning dates back to the late 1960’s. However, with the advent of the Internet it was repositioned as a major tool for course delivery so that students can undertake learning within a setting of their choice aligned with a pace that they can easily cope with. Marketing of distance learning programmes is a diversified business activity in many universities. At Salford University, the School of Construction and Property Management (SCPM) utilises the tool predominantly in delivering Masters and PhD programmes over the Internet. Literature review suggests that a lot of tools have been developed to facilitate DL courses and that their ability to deliver overall learning outcomes has been dealt with to a certain extent. However, the degree to which these tools satisfying social aspects of a classroom setting (e.g. guidance and support, body language, feedback, interactions with other learners etc.,) has not received adequate consideration in existing literature. A student satisfaction survey that SCPM has carried out also suggests that a significant number of DL students perceive a gap existing between their experiences compared with experiences of other students who attend full time courses. Proposed work therefore investigates the extent to which the distant learning tools address the wider aspects of supporting a classroom situation during its operation and proposes guidelines for improvement.
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