Open Access in Higher Education–Strategies for Engaging Diverse Student Cohorts

Luisa Signor, Catherine Moore


With growth in online education, students gain tertiary qualifications through a mode more suited to their demographics such as work and life balance, learning styles and geographical accessibility. Inevitably this has led to a growth in diversity within student cohorts.

The case study described in this paper illustrates strategies based on informed learning design for educating diverse student cohorts in an online program offered by Swinburne University of Technology. The case, an open-access, undergraduate information systems program, attracts mature age students studying while balancing employment and family commitments. The program’s open-access facet is the ‘no entry requirements’ such as prerequisite studies. Hence, many students enter the program via non-traditional pathways bringing significant differences in experience and consequent skill bases. The program’s innovative pedagogy encourages students to engage via active learning with tailored assessments, interactive communication via discussion boards and facilitated real-time sessions and formative feedback which include audio components.


Diversity, e-Learning, higher education, learning design, mature age, open access

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