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Connection, connectivity and choice: learning during COVID-19 restrictions across mainstream schools and Flexible Learning Programmes in Australia


Plage, S and Cook, S and Povey, J and Rudling, E and te Riele, K and McDaid, L and Western, M, Connection, connectivity and choice: learning during COVID-19 restrictions across mainstream schools and Flexible Learning Programmes in Australia, Australian Journal of Social Issues pp. 1-20. ISSN 0157-6321 (2022) [Refereed Article]

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DOI: doi:10.1002/ajs4.228


The COVID-19 pandemic and associated school closures may have constrained educational participation particularly for students in disadvantaged circumstances. We explore how 30 disadvantaged students in secondary school (14 mainstream/16 Flexible Learning Programme) from Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania experienced home learning during the first wave of COVID-19, teasing out nuances across two educational models. Drawing on semi-structured interviews with these students, our analysis revealed three interconnected themes inflecting their learning: connection, connectivity and choice. Connection captures the desire for belonging and practices that facilitated meeting this desire during system-wide disruptions to school routines and face-to-face learning. Connectivity captures the impact of digitally facilitated learning at home on students' ability to engage with curriculum content and with their learning community. Choice captures the availability of viable options to overcome barriers students encountered in their learning and possibilities to flexibly accommodate student preferences and learning needs. Students from Flexible Learning Programmes appeared generally better supported to exercise agency within the scope of their lived experience of home-based learning. Findings indicate a need for strengthening student-centred policy and practices aimed at leveraging the affordances of information technology, balancing self-directed and structured learning and providing holistic support to enable meaningful student choice.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:COVID-19, Flexible Learning Programmes, agency, learning during COVID-19, secondary school, social disadvantage, learning, wellbeing, digital technologies
Research Division:Education
Research Group:Education policy, sociology and philosophy
Research Field:Sociology of education
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Schools and learning environments
Objective Field:Equity and access to education
UTAS Author:Rudling, E (Dr Emily Rudling)
UTAS Author:te Riele, K (Professor Kitty te Riele)
ID Code:152721
Year Published:2022
Deposited By:Peter Underwood Centre for Educational Attainment
Deposited On:2022-08-23
Last Modified:2022-09-09

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