Implications and Challenges in Studying as a Full Distance Learner on a Masters Programme: Students’ Perspectives

David Fincham


There has been a growing interest in the application of information and communication technology (ICT) as a means of improving and extending participation in Higher Education and in its impact on pedagogy. Six years ago, two students were recruited to a Masters Degree programme at St Mary’s University, London, as Full Distance Learners. Full Distance Learning implies that through asynchronous participation, students are not required to be together at the same time but can access course materials and communicate with tutors and other students flexibly at their own time and convenience through a virtual learning environment (VLE). Numbers have grown exponentially and, currently, there are more than fifty Full Distance Learners engaged at some point in the programme. This paper sets out to explore the personal reflections of the experiences of Full Distance Learners who have successfully completed the course. Adopting a phenomenological approach, it was possible for the researcher to explore individual perceptions of students in order to evaluate their particular experiences, which are not often studied. Consequently, it was possible to interpret the benefits and limitations of studying as Full Distance Learners from their own experiences. It was hoped that an examination of the experiences and perceptions of individuals from their own personal points of view would indicate to what extent they would support, inform and challenge conventional practice.

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International Journal of Higher Education
ISSN 1927-6044 (Print) ISSN 1927-6052 (Online) Email:

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