Conceptions of learning and preferred learning approaches have been suggested to vary cross-culturally. The extent to which learning is ‘student-centred’ or ‘teacher-centred’ also appears subject to cultural variation. This has led some to conclude that particular cultures exhibit learning preferences more suited to distance learning than do other cultures. This article examines the strategies that students from varying cultural backgrounds use to manage the experience of the isolation of distance learning. Two distinct isolation experiences emerge that reflect differences in the perceptions of the student–teacher relationship. These, it is argued, can be classified as a ‘surrogate teacher’ model in the Asian cultures of Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia and a ‘student identity’ model in Europe
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