Layers of transition: the lived experiences of online distance learners

Helen Wozniak, Rosemary Mceldowney

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Paper published in Proceedingspeer-review


    Higher education is undergoing change, whereby technology is used to mediate learning for an increasingly diverse student population. Many choose flexible options studying online and at a distance to the university. Such policy directions have created an educational problem for students, namely how to manage this mode of learning while maintaining complex lives juggling work, home and study. This research forms part of an extended design-based research project studying the practical problem of health science students transitioning to online distance study. A subset of five students studying an undergraduate fully online nursing degree at a regional university was used to examine their engagement with an online orientation resource designed to smooth the transition to university study. Their digital footprints illustrating student access levels were combined with qualitative interview data to identify and interpret meanings about the way they encountered and constructed their study world. Findings indicated that technical aspects, lifestyle, interaction and academic supports created both barriers and enablers for this transition. The essence of the students’ experience revealed a complex study journey with multiple layers of transition. This involved adjusting to being a university student, managing the distance and online environment and re-positioning their occupational mindset. Their ability to manage these layers of transition was influenced by their selfregulatory varied approaches to enable successful transition for distance and online learners.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationLearning for Life and Work in a Complex World
    Place of PublicationMelbourne, Australia
    PublisherHigher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia
    Number of pages11
    ISBN (Print)978-0-908557-96-7
    Publication statusPublished - 2015
    EventHigher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia Annual Conference (HERDSA 2015 38th) - Melbourne, Australia
    Duration: 6 Jul 20159 Jul 2015
    Conference number: 2015 (38th)


    ConferenceHigher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia Annual Conference (HERDSA 2015 38th)
    Abbreviated titleHERDSA
    Internet address


    Dive into the research topics of 'Layers of transition: the lived experiences of online distance learners'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this