Superficial social inclusion? Reflections from first-time distance learners. A Practice Report

  • Mark Brown Massey University
  • Mike Keppell Charles Sturt University
  • Helen Hughes Massey University
  • Natasha Hard Charles Sturt University
  • Sandi Shillington Massey University
  • Liz Smith Charles Sturt University


This paper reports on a research project that sought to investigate the experiences of first-time distance learners from their own perspectives, in their own words, through weekly video diaries. The research took place against a background of growing concern about low retention and completion rates among distance students, which raises questions about what actually happens to learners once they begin their study. While the project will ultimately generate evidence-based deliverables targeted at both distance education providers and distance learners, this paper reports on a selection of learner stories that highlight the nature of superficial social inclusion in the absence of support and engagement strategies that reach out at the point of need throughout the study lifecycle. The research challenges educators to reflect on the difficulties of supporting distance students to engage effectively with study amid other life and work commitments, at the same time as being mindful that to survive the distance they need to be independent, self-motivated learners.
Jul 25, 2012
How to Cite
BROWN, Mark et al. Superficial social inclusion? Reflections from first-time distance learners. A Practice Report. The International Journal of the First Year in Higher Education, [S.l.], v. 3, n. 2, p. 73-80, july 2012. ISSN 1838-2959. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 16 aug. 2018. doi:
Practice Reports


Distance education, social inclusion, video diaries

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