Publication Details

Stone, C. & O'Shea, S. (2019). My children... think it's cool that mum is a uni student: Women with caring responsibilities studying online. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 35 (6), 97-110.


Much has been written about the growing influence and reach of online learning in higher education, including the opportunities that this can offer for improving student equity and widening participation. One area of student equity in which online learning has an influence is that of gender equity, particularly for mature-age students. This article explicitly explores how the dual identities of student and family carer are managed by women studying online. It highlights the largely invisible yet emotional and time-consuming additional load that many women are carrying and discusses the importance of this being recognised and accommodated at an institutional level. Online study has the potential to facilitate a more manageable and achievable study path for students with caring responsibilities, most of whom are women. Institutional understanding and awareness are required for this potential to be truly realised, thereby reducing educational inequity. Implications for practice or policy: • Recognising that older students, particularly women, are often combining study with complex family caring responsibilities, will lead to a more equitable learning environment that better facilitates persistence and success for online students. • Building flexibility into online course design, keeping content and assessment tasks relevant and focused, enables students to pace their studies within their significant time constraints. • Regular and meaningful communication between tutors and students sustains engagement, building a culture of caring, encouragement and support.



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