"Learning communities" are an attractive if hackneyed notion, especially in higher education contexts, because they offer the promise of students learning effectively within quasi-authentic environments. However, the constraints of time, curriculum and student profile in university subjects often mean these "communities" lack depth - everybody is an apprentice. A longitudinal design experiment was conducted in a large first-year university subject. The study included past students acting as legitimate members of a current community. They provided advice, support and offered mentoring-at-a-distance to current students. Thus, through mediated communication channels, they provided a tantalising glimpse of a deeper community, enriched by functional and reflective conversations. As a technique which is relatively easy to set up, the method described has immediate practical application
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