Support for Online Learning
An important aspect that determines the quality of a study experience is the level of support that students receive. Many students worry that online institutions will not be able to provide the support that they need. This concern is increasingly being recognized by online learning providers, and many are working hard to ensure that students’ needs are met in all areas.
The main concern that potential students have regarding support is the lack of face-to-face help that an online course provides; however, by using technology like video calling and the more traditional phone and email, virtual institutions are increasingly bridging the gap between online and on-campus student support.
Student Support Teams
A dedicated Student Support team often forms the core of online institutions’ student support functions. The sole responsibility of this team is to provide pastoral care and support. Online (and part-time) students can experience problems and issues that are unique to this mode of study, and online learning institutions’ Student Support teams will be experienced and sympathetic to the range of issues experienced by online learners.
Student Support teams are often trained in providing advice on issues from financial troubles to family commitments, and can range from minor technology troubleshooting to major life events like a bereavement.
This isn’t the only support you receive on an online course; your fellow students are also a great source of help and advice. Using online discussion forums provided by the institution, WhatsApp and even Facebook groups, students can create an online community that supports each classmate as they overcome obstacles together as a group.
In-House & Freelance Instructors
The role that personal and pastoral support plays in an online student’s success cannot be overstated. However, academic support also plays a vital role in creating a supportive learning environment.
Online institutions vary, but many utilize a combination of in-house and freelance course instructors to create and deliver their courses. These instructors will be qualified subject experts and will be able to give academic guidance and feedback at any point in the course.
Academic feedback can sometimes be tough to receive, particularly if you’ve put a great deal of effort into a piece, but this can often be the first step towards improvement and greater confidence. Your instructors will always provide constructive commentary, giving tips and advice for the future, and this can then lead to improved confidence in decision-making and broader subject-specific understanding.
Depending on the institution, your instructor should also be available for individual sessions, and you should also be able to contact your instructor directly. Individual sessions with your instructor will enable you to ask questions about topics covered within the course, and request further feedback on your progress and areas of development.