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Tele-proximity: The Experienced Educator Perspective on Human to Human Connection in Distance Education.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Chrysoula Themeli
Publication date2013
Number of pages284
Awarding Institution
Place of PublicationLancaster
  • Lancaster University
Electronic ISBNs9780438573512
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Distance education is an integral part of many universities worldwide, aiming to offer students opportunities for life-long learning and equitable access. Distant learners face many barriers and as a result, they drop out more frequently than on-campus students. Educators seem to be equally affected by the 'transactional distance' and the new digital skills needed for teaching online. The purpose of this study is to explore the educators' perspective on how synchronous video communication (SVC) could offer alternative educational forms for distance learning. Specifically the study aims to fill gaps in the existing research literature: to describe synchronous teaching approaches that are used worldwide to support e-learners, to investigate the role of the educator, to discover how learning and subject content are affected by SVC, to see if it enhances the sense of togetherness (immediacy and intimacy) to specify the contextual factors influencing teaching and learning synchronously, and to formulate a theory. The Informed Grounded Theory (Thornberg, 2012) and the Community of Inquiry model (Garrison, Anderson & Archer, 2000) provided a scaffolding framework for designing interview questions and analysing findings. The findings of the study illustrate the empirical evidence of the value of SVC, its potential forms (teaching approaches), possibilities (linking educational purposes to the medium) and contextual factors (University policy, time zones, technologies, learning objectives, educator and student identities). Specifically, audiovisual cues have an impact on educators, the learning process and immediacy. The theory of Tele-proximity formulated to explain how educators and students are connected in synchronous networked environment via tele-operations. The study aims at helping educators/instructional designers, and administrators to face the difficulties of transactional distance and make informed decisions about synchronous video enhanced communication. Researchers may use Tele-proximity as a heuristic tool to continue the scientific dialogue on the potential of synchronous video-enhanced technologies in distance education.

Bibliographic note

Thesis (Ph.D.)--Lancaster University (United Kingdom), 2013.