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Identifying Learner Needs

In the previous section you conducted a brief investigation of what learners want in terms of flexibility. In addition there has been a great deal of research conducted into flexible options in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) Sector within Australia and internationally.

Learners are fairly consistent in their demands. A recent survey of students by OTEN (2003) investigated what learners wanted from their organisation was:

  1. Motivation and Support
  2. Regular Communication
  3. Prompt Assignment feedback
  4. Ease of Administration

These needs from learners could very easily be relevant in a classroom situation, however retention rates in distance based or online courses have traditionally been lower than on-campus delivery modes (ref). If a student  completes a course, whether online, classroom or print based distance learning, the actual pass rates are not substantially different. Trigger points when students are likely to  leave a course include when the first assignment is due. (REF)

Your investigation of your learners and your experiences as a teacher will help you as you consider learner needs.


Make a list of learner needs based on the information available to you. Divide this list into the "Must Have" and "Nice to Have". You might choose to represent this as a simple word table or a diagram. Upload your list to the "Shared Workspace Area" [link].
As a group agree on how you will conduct this next section of the task - consider teleconference, online discussion, videoconference or a face-to-face meeting.
Purpose: to identify key learner needs in relation to flexibility.
Task: from the information presented by group members, identify common themes. Is it possible for your group to develop key learner needs and agree on a priority listing? Make brief notes about the group's findings and report by email to your facilitator. A due date for this activity will be negotiated with groups.
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