The Field Study as an Educational Technique in Open and Distance Learning

Paraskevi VASSALA

The main characteristic of Distance Learning is that the student is taught and learns without his tutor’s physical presence in the classroom. The opportunity for a direct (face to face) communication between all members of the educational group [tutor counselor (TC) and students] in Distance Learning is offered by the Tutorials/Contact Sessions (CS). Although these CSs are not compulsory, it is estimated that they are of high importance, since among other things, they help in clarifying difficult to understand points and they also help in the cognitive subject becoming more fully comprehensible by the student (Holmberg 1995). For the discussion of the various issues at the CSs many different educational techniques within the framework of adult education such as teamwork, short lectures, debates, questions and answers, case studies, simulations, role play, etc are used in combination. These are techniques raising the student’s interest, facilitating his/her participation in the learning process and developing interaction between TC and students and between students themselves. They also create a learning and research environment; encourage the students to work in a group and to learn by acting (Kokkos 1998). One of these educational techniques is the field study, which is the subject of this paper. To this day, no research has been carried out for the possibility of implementation of this technique in Distance Learning nor have any results of such implementation been studied. This paper comprising of three parts contains a general presentation of the field study as a teaching technique in the first part while in the second part the successive stages of development of this technique in Distance Learning are analyzed. Finally, in the third part the students’ views of Hellenic Open University on this technique are presented.

KEYWORDS: Field study; Hellenic Open University; Distance Learning; tutorials/Contact Sessions (CS); Educational Techniques