Distance learning (DL) students typically learn with very limited or no requirements for physical presence and this often means that learning may be perceived as a more isolating or less 'natural' experience. Postgraduate (PG) DL students are particularly vulnerable as mature students with working and family commitments who require more support in their transition to a DL PG study, having experienced a longer break in education. This paper presents the main findings of a survey of 82 students and semi-structured interviews with 11 students studying at the Robert Gordon University (Aberdeen, Scotland). The research explored their expectations and challenges encountered in transitioning to a DL PG study across a number of different subject areas. The study found that the online induction process should meet a variety of expectations and needs, focusing primarily on academic and social aspects. DL study can be an isolating experience, which can be made less alienating when there is a chance for students to get to know their peers and teaching staff. An inclusive approach to online induction geared towards flexible support and interactive, engaging content is an important consideration.
MARTZOUKOU, K. and KEMP. V. 2016. Nurturing supportive and engaging induction environments for distance-learning students. Procedia: social and behavioral sciences; proceedings of the 2nd international conference on higher education advances (HEAd'16), 21-23 June 2016, Valencia, Spain [online], 228, pages 535-540. Available from: https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2016.07.082