Communicating Online: Will We Ever Get the Conversation Right?

Julie Clarke

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOtherpeer-review

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Laurillard (1999:113) emphasised the need to set a ‘conversational framework’ that makes explicit the process of learning to all involved. The framework, however, does not remain static but will undergo a degree of reflection and adaptation on the part of both the learner and the institution over time. Issues arise when the expectations of students and the reality of institutional delivery diverge.

Kirk et al (2008) surveyed distance learners studying for a Masters at Northumbria University. The findings highlighted a division between actual delivery on the part of the institution and the expectations of students as online learners. This misalignment of the ‘conversational framework’ saw students express concern about institutional approaches to the delivery of online learning. These failed to meet expectations for more diverse and interactive learning materials.

Enhancements, utilising emerging technologies, were subsequently put in place to enhance the delivery and realign this with expectations.

A further survey of students studying the same programmes online was carried out in 2016. The purpose was to ascertain if there continued to be an alignment of delivery and expectations or had the process of reflection and adaptation, ongoing since the original survey, resulted in further divergence. Findings indicated that technological solutions to enhance the online learning experience had been effective in meeting gaps identified in the earlier survey. However they also showed that student expectations had once again moved ahead of the institution’s delivery emphasising an increasing divergence in terms of understanding the ‘conversational framework’.

The question this poses is whether or not we will ever be able to align expectation and delivery in order to ensure we get the ‘conversational framework’ right for online learners.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2017
EventInnovation in Built Environment Education: Achieving Excellence - Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, United Kingdom
Duration: 7 Sept 20178 Sept 2017


ConferenceInnovation in Built Environment Education
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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