The intellectual and practical benefits gained from this experience notwithstanding, the model of learning suggested by the course structure was one of individualized learning, with little to no contact among students or between tutor and students.
I brought to the course a set of expectations and understandings about feminist pedagogy. Students would embrace cooperative learning by sharing personal experiences, and they would link those experiences to larger meta-questions about gender equality and social justice. At the time, I felt that the print-based structure of the course whereby students worked at their own pace, outside of the physical classroom seemed very disconnected from feminist pedagogical practices. In so doing, we will have greater insight into the limitations imposed by, and the possibilities presented through, this complex and often contradictory relationship.
Carole Leathwood,Becky Francis's Gender and Lifelong Learning: Critical Feminist Engagements PDF
Several key questions structure this review. First, what does the distance education model of learning have to offer feminist pedagogy and, conversely, can distance education be compatible with feminist educational objectives? Second, what are the feminist concerns regarding distance education? Finally, why should distance education matter to feminist teachers?
Feminism has transformed the classic model of adult education by challenging hierarchies of knowledge and authority and by tackling issues of gender inequality in the classroom Maher and Tetreault Inspired by my own experiences facilitating learning in distance education courses, I want to tackle this apparent contradiction. In the distance education that I have been part of, there is little engagement among students, people live at great distances from and do not know one another, and it is difficult to gauge whether the material has any significant impact on the majority of the student body other than the few who regularly stay in contact.
Thus, I too have doubts about the compatibility of feminist pedagogy with the distance education model of learning. I begin by briefly sketching out the concept and importance of distance education within adult learning. Building on this discussion, I then examine the feminist debate on distance education, focusing on particular concerns about gender, technology, curriculum, and pedagogy. As we will see, feminist educators are still debating each of these issues, and many are using their writing to share their experiences with distance teaching to highlight both the challenges of and possibilities inherent in this model of learning.
Through my review, I will show that I am arguing for a feminist model of distance education that not only incorporates the needs of students and feminist educators but also supports student growth and skill development. The model must also be flexible enough to adapt to rapidly changing learning environments brought on by advances in technology.
I will conclude by suggesting ways to begin to bridge the gap between feminist pedagogy and distance education. The purpose of distance education is to make higher education more accessible and flexible for adult learners who would not otherwise be able to continue their education within the traditional classroom setting.
Anthony Kaye describes distance education as follows: The virtual nature of distance education is meant to offer students more control over the pace and context of their learning. Of course, distance education does not come for free, and many critics have argued that the costs, both financial and personal, may be too high for many potential learners see Kaye; Kramarae , especially when we consider how quickly learning technologies i. Canadian distance education, or learning at a distance, was implemented as early as the late nineteenth century and hearkened back to an earlier era when provisions were made to educate people across a vast geographical space Canadian Association of Distance Education.
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The implementation of mail service has also been credited with the rise in correspondence courses offered by Canadian universities in the late nineteenth century. It was during this period of growth, from the s to the mids, that a number of postsecondary institutions across Canada e. During the s a number of universities e. Distance education courses are offered for many kinds of degrees and programs and serve multiple purposes, from professional upgrading and undergraduate survey courses to graduate studies.
Since the late twentieth century, distance education has undergone changes brought about by rapidly occurring technological advancements and evolving student needs.
Gender Lifelong Learning Critical Engagements
The first generation, called correspondence teaching, relied solely on printed material. The traditional student-teacher hierarchy remained intact, and student feedback was slow. Nipper suggests that many Western postsecondary institutions premised their early distance education courses on this model The second generation, referred to as multimedia distance education, developed in the late s.
This model relies on a mix of print and broadcast media, as well as on some teleconferencing combined with face-to-face interaction between teacher and student. Overall, the objective of both the first and second generations was the distribution of materials to learners.
In both generations, learner have little contact with instructors and little to no contact with other learners.
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Nipper points out that the first- and second-generation delivery modes are often criticized because they are constructed to favour those who are already educated and ignore the social processes involved in learning This last point has certainly been taken up by feminist educators. They call for, and adopt, teaching techniques that view the student as an active participant in the creation of knowledge who is responsible for his or her own learning.
The student is not simply a passive receiver of education. The third generation — made possible largely by the development of web communications technologies in the late twentieth century email, chat rooms, and technologies designed specifically for online learning such as WebCT and First Class — addresses these issues by prioritizing communication between students and teachers and among students. This model is also defined by its use of group work, more flexible curricula, and the narrowing of the social distance between students and teachers Nipper As noted in a report by the Canadian Association of Distance Education CADE , distance education facilitators have always made use of all available technology 7.
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Nevertheless, it is also important to recognize that integrating computer-mediated communications CMCs into distance education is not supposed to replace more traditional models of communication. Rather, CMCs should complement and expand on existing frameworks and models Kaye Specialists such as Anthony Kaye argue that this will give students the best learning experience possible.
Ultimately, though, the use of CMCs will depend on academic disciplines and pedagogical needs Kaye Indeed, feminist educators have long noted that so-called gender-neutral education models tend to be a code for andocentric and Western ways of knowing, an observation that appears to be borne out in distance education literature, the bulk of which is not concerned with gender issues Raddon , let alone with the specific concerns and needs of women students.
In this sense, although discussions about CMCs and generations of distance education are no doubt important, the specific needs and experiences of women are rarely acknowledged in them. In the case of distance education, gender must take centre stage as an important category worthy of scholarly inquiry.
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It is imperative that feminist teachers continue to contest this oversight through their dedication to research and change. Feminist pedagogy is generally concerned with knowledge construction, power relationships, the assertion that the personal is political, the relationship between theory and practice, and a critique of traditional approaches see Tisdell; Nawratil. Because feminist pedagogies are informed by a variety of critical theories, from postmodernism to psychology, there is no single definition of feminist pedagogy see Tisdell; Nawratil.
This highlights the ways in which feminist pedagogy debates are often constrained by their discussion of physical space s , resulting in fewer discussions and explorations of feminist teaching practices that occur in non-traditional i.
More recent studies on feminist pedagogy within the physical classroom, however, do raise important questions about the possibility of carrying out traditional feminist pedagogical practices within the masculinist institutional space of the university. However, these limitations have not stifled or silenced feminist educators; the classroom, both as a physical place and space, has become yet another site for critical reflection, activism, and resistance.
The feminist literature on distance education reveals the myriad ways feminists are teaching women and men: These various techniques have also been used to help overcome some of the exclusionary practices and problems attached to the physical classroom discussed above. For instance, distance courses can transcend geographical borders, bringing together female students from all over the world and providing them with the opportunity to share their experiences and knowledge with a diverse group of women Joseph The ability of distance education to cross all kinds of borders e.
Despite these kinds of differences, the main issue most feminist distance educators raise again and again is the lack of research on the gendered aspects of distance education see Burge and Lenksyj; May; Hanson, Flansberg, and Castano; Johnson; Briggs and McBride; Raddon. I identify two subfields emerging from this larger concern with gender: With over two hundred pages of transparent concise reasons and routines it not just is helping you already know why we've got the guideline and exceptions, and why now we have 'strange' letter styles, but additionally indicates reminiscence tips to aid keep in mind them.
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Unprotected participation in life long learning and the politics of hope: Locating the learner within EU policy: Gendered constructions of lifelong learning and the learner in the UK policy context Carole Leathwood Section 2: Accessing Lifelong Learning Chapter 4: Masculinities, femininities and resistance to participation in post-compulsory education Louise Archer Chapter 6: Exploring gender, access and participation beyond entry to higher education Penny Burke Section 3: Experiences of Lifelong Learning Chapter 7: From childcare practitioner to FE tutor: Disability, gender and identity: Older women as lifelong learners Barbara Kamler Chapter