Empowering learners in online distance learning

Partner: University of Ljubljana

Online distance learning (ODL) »is a course or programme where students study through online tools, significantly or entirely at a distance from their fellow students and teaching staff /…/« (Varwell 2018, 6). ODL students are very diverse, therefore diversity needs to be taken into account while preparing teaching materials and teaching methods in order to provide inclusive learning environment. When we think about empowering students in distance learning, we need to think about how to create accessible and inclusive, as well as interactive and engaging distance learning experience.

To create such an experience, teachers need to be equipped with a range of student-centered interactive teaching methods that increase student engagement and motivation, and with skills to design inclusive teaching experience in online distance learning.

To enhance student engagement, students need to feel that they are part of a supportive institution, which means that activities and approaches must me designed in a way that encourage students to actively participate in the learning process – the focus must be on widening participation and removing barriers to participation. Additionally, students need to be engaged in their own learning, teaching and assessment, which means that activities and approaches must be designed in a way that encourage students to take responsibility for successful learning and support students to develop skills in independent learning. Moreover, students need to have a chance to work with the institution in shaping the direction of learning, which means that activities and approaches must be designed in a way that students can comment, reflect on and evaluate their learning experience and progress individually and in a group.

In an effort to promote active participation of students in classes and their engagement, we should provide access to appropriate resources and support. Secondly, student contribution need to be valued, diversity (of students) need to be taken into account, and inclusive learning process should be provided. An last, but not least, students need to be seen as partners in designing learning, teachnig and assessment.

Sparqs. A student engagement framework for Scotland.


Varwell, S. 2018. Engaging students in online distance learning.


PLACEDU – Meta Platform: Module 5: Empowering Learners.