This presentation was delivered at the joint HEA/UKCISA Internationalisation of Pedagogy and Curriculum in Higher Education Conference that took place at the University of Warwick on 16th and 17th June 2011.
An increasing challenge for higher education institutions is to meet the needs of international students who are unable to be physically present on campus. Social learning theorists argue that the very process of learning changes our identity and that an important part of this process is becoming an integrated part of a community of practice (Wenger, 2000). For learning to be effective, it must make a link between the knowledge base and the social context in which it will be applied. Elearning is increasingly being used as a means of teaching, both for international and home students. This raises the question of how the experience of online learning, which by definition takes place in a different social context from face to face learning, shapes learner identity.
This paper explores whether elearning can bring unique aspects to the educational experience in terms of shaping identity and the extent to which it may meet the needs of international students. The factors which are considered include anonymity versus disclosing identity, synchronous versus asynchronous communication, the role of text, visual communication and avatars, and the role of game informed learning.