Using ICTs to Promote the Effective Use of Student, Tutor and Information Resources in Professional Development at a Distance
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AbstractAs mature adult learners, professional development students have much relevant experience and knowledge to offer each other. A problem for small states, as also for specialized study programmes, is assembling in one place a student group of sufficient size to benefit from this exchange. Established forms of distance learning can overcome the problem of dispersed locations, but make it more difficult for students to draw on the collective resource their peers represent, particularly during periods of independent study. This paper presents a case that, providing they are carefully integrated, communication technologies can enhance and deepen the learning experiences of remote students, in addition to reducing the problem of social isolation. As well as learning from each other, students can gain better access to scarce subject expertise and source materials. To make the case, the paper draws on experiences documented in the research literature, and on one author’s professional practice. At the same time, it emphasizes the importance of preliminary needs analysis and a well-constructed learning design for effective use of the new technologies, and offers some guidance from the practitioner research literature.