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Apresentação da defesa da dissertação de Mestrado em Educação, especialidade em Pedagogia do eLearning. Universidade Aberta, Julho de 2014
This study focuses in an online learning context taking as focus graduate and master students of the only Portuguese online university offering courses exclusively online. Universidade Aberta privileges in its pedagogical model the principle of digital inclusion alongside flexibility and interaction primacies.
Online student has a different profile from the face-to-face student. He has familiar and professional responsibilities. He’s an adult returning his activity as student, in most of cases, after several years of interregnum.
Being an online student involves much more than the simple access to a computer and the internet. Implies, first of all, a predisposition to learn, communicate and express himself differently from what happens in face-to-face contexts. Implies using and manipulating technologies in a context in which the roles of students and teachers are specially differentiated of those that happens in face-to-face classroom.
The aim of this study is to know the students’ experience in early online days, after their arrival to the virtual classroom, their main motivations and difficulties and also to understand how these students live and interpret their experiences as online students.
The methodology used is qualitative and exploratory, taking the form of a case study. As data collection instruments we proceeded to online interviews and analysis of an online social character forum (the Virtual Café).
Despite the study limitations, the results point to 1) some previous digital literacy before the entrance in an online course but with difficulties in adapting to the eLearning model; 2) strong emotions experienced in the early online days; 3) difficulties in finding a balanced time management.