Virtual Face-to-Face Communication and the Learning Experience of Post-Graduate Students Studying via Flexible Delivery Mode

By Kate Thomson, Boon-Kiang Tan and Christopher Brook.

Published by The Technology Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The Centre for International Health (CIH) at Curtin University of Technology delivers its postgraduate courses primarily via the flexible delivery mode. This study aimed to determine the necessity, practicality and effectiveness of implementing virtual online face-to-face communication between students and their tutor. Two units were used as case exemplars for this study. Both units promoted virtual face-to-face communication through Skype or msn during the teaching semester, in addition to email support. The tutor recorded her experience throughout the semester, including students’ details, duration of contact and difficulties encountered. Students’ experiences were assessed using an online survey, with a hyperlink sent to students preferred email addresses. Demographic data were collated to allow for an investigation of its effect on student perception and uptake of services. The survey explored student perception of current services and communication, and their experience of flexible delivery mode, and their uptake of and experience of virtual online face-to-face communication. Results indicated most students were satisfied with email communication, but they believe additional support services and opportunities for communication would enhance their learning experience. The experience of those who communicated through Skype was generally positive, where higher level of engagement was reported. There is support for further implementation, as the service will likely be utilised by a small proportion of students (those who feel isolated or are dissatisfied with email communication), resulting in a manageable increase in the tutor’s workload. For students located outside Australia, this provides a financially viable alternative to international telephone communication.

Keywords: Postgraduate Students, Flexible Delivery, Skype, Computer Mediated Communication, Health Sciences, Exemplar Case Study

The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp.71-84. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.149MB).

Kate Thomson

Institute for Teaching and Learning, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Dr. Boon-Kiang Tan

Centre for International Health, Curtin University of Technology, Australia

A/Prof Christopher Brook

Office of Teaching and Learning, Curtin University of Technology, Australia


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