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Smart, WJ 2005, 'Distance education a proactive approach', paper presented to Beyond delivery: Online Learning and Teaching conference, Brisbane, Qld., 27 September.


This paper focuses on the introduction of a proactive approach using electronic technologies to address the disparity between the internal and distance education students learning outcomes. Typically the approach of university lecturers to distance education students in computer programming subjects is reactive, responding to queries via email or asynchronous discussion forums.

By adopting a proactive approach to contact with the students, the lecturer/tutor can enhance the students’ engagement with subject materials, encourage the distance education students to join in discussions with their peers (on and off campus), and break the sense of “isolation” suffered by distance education students.

The research undertaken used targeted (individual) email and discussion forums to improve the quality of the learning experience for the distance education students. Qualitative and quantitative feedback, in the form of a questionnaire, as well as historical comparison, was used to measure the overall success of the proactive approach.

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