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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Unlimited Access: The Real Benefits of Online Learning

Dr. Karen Woodman.

This paper explores a number of myths regarding the perceived advantages and disadvantages of graduate study in the 'virtual' classroom based on the results of a 2 year study of students enrolled in a wholly online MA in Applied Linguistics.

Recent debate over online learning has typically focussed on the perceived advantages of F2F (face-to-face) over 'de-humanized' computer-based learning (e.g., Brabazon. 2002).

Based on my recent research, I will argue that not only is this myth outdated in a world of text-messaging and email, but it serves to undermine the real benefits of online learning (e.g., interactivity, flexibility and accessibility), while preserving the academic status quo.

It will be argued that in many ways, online learning can be more interactive and democratic than the traditional university lecture where the lecturer dominates, and quiet students, and minority students, rarely participate. Asynchronous discussions (e.g., bulletin board) allow students in different time zones to discuss issues and learn collaboratively.

Further, the flexibility and accessibility of online learning (e.g. any where, any time) offers educational opportunities to those who may have previously been unable to study due to work or family commitments, geographical isolation, financial limitations, etc.


Dr. Karen Woodman  (Australia)
Lecturer in Linguistics, Coordinator of MA in Applied Linguistics
School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics
University of New England

Dr. Karen Woodman is the Coordinator of the online MA in Applied Linguistics, and Lecturer in Linguistics at the University of New England. Her areas of interest include SLA, ESL, TESL and online learning.

  • Online learning
  • Applied linguistics

(30 min Conference Paper, English)