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Interactivity, connectedness and ‘teacher-presence': engaging and retaining students online

Stone, C and Springer, M ORCID: 0000-0003-3017-2893 2019 , 'Interactivity, connectedness and ‘teacher-presence': engaging and retaining students online' , Australian Journal of Adult Learning, vol. 59, no. 2 , pp. 146-169 .

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An increasing number of students entering Australian higher education are choosing to study in an online mode. Attrition rates for online students are considerably higher than for students studying primarily on-campus, with evidence suggesting that the isolation of online study combined with the challenges of technology, academic expectations and pressure from other areas of students’ lives, are significant contributors to this. However, there is also evidence to indicate that a supportive and engaging online teaching and learning environment, can help to mitigate against these difficulties and lead to increased student retention. This paper outlines the findings from a recent study with 16 universities, which demonstrated the importance of online ‘teacher presence’, combined with engaging, inclusive and interactive design, content and delivery. One example is provided of changes implemented in an online unit of study at a regional Australian university, in response to these findings, with positive effects on student engagement. Such changes at the individual unit level can indeed make a positive difference on a small scale; however, institutional commitment to improving the quality of online education is needed to extend such successes to the broader online student population.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Stone, C and Springer, M
Keywords: student engagement, online learning, distance education
Journal or Publication Title: Australian Journal of Adult Learning
Publisher: Adult Learning Australia
ISSN: 1443-1394
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