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Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, v55 n2 p133-149 Spr 2014

Distance education, by definition, creates a number of challenges for lecturer and student in building and maintaining connection and commitment. The challenges that need to be overcome include communication difficulties, lack of student motivation, high drop out from courses, provision of support at a distance and a sense of isolation or lack of student community. The use of collaborative technologies such as wikis or document sharing platforms is one way in which these challenges can be addressed. This paper looks at the application of a specific document sharing platform, Etherpad, in order to assess its effectiveness in building connections between distance education (DE) students enrolled in a library and information studies course in an effort to create the sense of a learning community amongst them. In addition, the research also looked at the effectiveness of Etherpad as a tool to help develop students' capacity to meet a number of the University's graduate attribute outcomes. Content analysis of the online conversations of nearly 400 undergraduate students was undertaken and the results evaluated. From these, the researchers concluded that the nature of the task, together with the technology employed, made a considerable positive impact on those involved, increasing their sense of being part of a cohort, encouraging a questioning, supportive environment and making them feel more at ease with group work as DE learners.

Descriptors: Library Education, Distance Education, Cooperative Learning, Computer Uses in Education, Undergraduate Students, Foreign Countries, Teamwork, Synchronous Communication, Instructional Effectiveness, Content Analysis

Association for Library and Information Science Education. 2150 N 107th Street Suite 205, Seattle, WA 98133. Tel: 206-209-5267; Fax: 206-367-8777; e-mail: office[at]; Web site:

Autor: Pymm, Bob; Hay, Lyn


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