Remote Learning and Digital Media: Engaging students or widening the technology gap?


Video: Digital Media and Remote Learning: Engaging students or widening the technology gap?

This video shows the positives and negatives of undertaking external study while living in a rural or remote location, it is based on a personal example. The viewer is taken on a journey into an intentional community with limited connection to mainstream technology. The positive and negative aspects that digital media may have while living in the community property and undertaking post-secondary study are then presented with reference to scholarly material. Magnificent nature and community shots as well as a ‘run’ to the community meeting hall inspire the viewer to reflect on the vast differences in student life across the country. The viewer can then appreciate the immense positives of utilising digital media as a fundamental part of a study course, as well as gain an insight into the battles, frustrations and inequalities experienced by students in rural or remote locations.

The video footage is shot with iPhone6 and Macbook Air cameras, all footage is edited in iMovie. I used strategies such as panning in the opening shot, speeding up footage to give the effect of running and shooting ‘selfie’ style by utilising the front iPhone camera. All photos of the community were captured for the purpose of the video. The image of Sydney was downloaded under Creative Commons License from Flickr and the image of Karijini I captured while living in the National Park in 2014. The image of the map of Australia I photographed from the atlas book ‘Family Atlas’ (Philips 2007). All image edits, captions, slides and closing credits were created using Canva. The sound effects and music are both stock music provided by iMovie .

I was very interested to learn about the challenges faced by rural and remote external Students and how the situation could possibly be improved. I used my findings to inform my video as I was able to see clear similarities between results from studies carried out and my own situation. I can understand and empathise with the findings that rural and remote external students often feel isolated and disengaged and overall experience may lower rates of study success.

My research also uncovered that rural and remote students face issues with internet cost, internet connectivity and the compulsory use of large media files, a situation that encourages empathy and understanding in my video. Through research I also found that the use of digital and social media overall increases engagement and a sense of community. This led to my informed suggestion that the use of digital and social media could increase the level of engagement for remote students and aid in a feeling of participation and community. I was able to use all this information to present a comprehensive video with references to broad theories and findings as well as my own personal story.

I faced several challenges while constructing the video. It was challenging to install iMovie by relying on a very slow internet connection, however eventually after many visits to the community meeting hall it could be successfully installed. Another challenge was to shoot my ‘run’ to the Community Meeting Hall in a steady manner. Also, to memorise enough of my script and have the ability to shoot without appearing to be reading from notes was challenging, as well as to organise a time to upload the video to YouTube with a fast connection. I learnt that when living with limited connectivity I must ensure to strictly plan my time and download needs very carefully. My biggest surprise was at how comfortable I felt on screen and I learnt that I very much enjoy making videos and recording audio.


My broader online activity

I have been active online throughout the unit by:


Creative Commons:

Music: ‘Forest’, iMovie. ‘Travel’, iMovie.

Image: : Sacha Fernandez ‘Sydney City at Dusk’,

Image edits and slide creation: Canva.

Blog post feature image: ‘Bundagen Beach’ by Eva Brenner via Instagram,



AustralianPopulation2016 2016, Population of Sydney in 2016, retrieved 15 January 2017, <;.

Heini, T 2016, ‘How do online communities matter? Comparison between active and non-active participants in an online behavioral weight loss program’, Computers in Human Behavior, vol. 63, p787-795, doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2016.06.002.

Id, 2011, City of Sydney internet connection, retrieved 15 January 2017,<;.

Lamb, S, Jackson, J, Walstab, A and Huo, S 2015, ‘Educational opportunity in Australia 2015: Who succeeds and who misses out?’, Centre for International Research on Education Systems, for the Mitchell Institute, Melbourne: Mitchell Institute, retrieved 11 January 2017, <;.

Mahmud, MM, Ramachandiran, CR, Ismail, O 2016, ‘Social media and classroom engagement: students perception’, Journal of Media Critiques, vol. 2, no. 8, Doi:10.17349/jmc116214.

McDonald, J, Twining, P 2002, ‘Assessing activity–based learning for a networked course’, British Journal of Educational Technology, vol. 33, no. 5, pp. 603-618, retrieved 11th January 2017, <;.

Parkes, M, Gregory, S, Fletcher, P, Adlington, R, Gromik, N 2015, ‘Bringing people together while learning apart: creating online learning environments to support the needs of rural and remote students’, Australian and International Journal of Rural Education, vol. 25, no. 1, pp.66-79, Academic OneFile, EBSCOhost.

Philips 2007, ‘Family World Atlas’, Australia, Universal Publisher, Australia.

Rao, K, Eady, M, Edelden-Smith, S 2006, ‘Creating Virtual Classrooms for Rural and Remote Communities: online learning may be the key to enabling people in less populous areas to earn teaching degrees and other professional certificates’, Phi Delta Kappan, vol. 92, no .6, pp 22-28, Retrieved 11 January 2017 General Reference Center Gold, EBSCOHOST.

Scott, O, Kees, M, Stanway, AR 2015, ‘Tweeting the lecture: how social media can increase student engagement in higher education’, Sport Management Education Journal (Human Kinetics), vol. 9 no. 2, pp. 91-102, SPORTDiscus, EBSCOhost.


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