Distance Learning Students
Distance Learning study can be an isolating experience, getting to know peers and staff can make students’ situations less alienating. In common with other learners distance students value warmth and friendliness (approachability) from their tutors.
Distance-learning students value support as much as their face-to-face colleagues (Simpson, 2012). An open an friendly approach can be conveyed in all forms of communication including skype, phone call and e-mail. This advice on what might be termed “netiquette” (from the E-Learning team) may be helpful in assisting colleagues in communicating with students in a warm and empathic manner.
- It is particularly important with distance learners to establish boundaries – students may study and send e-mails at anti-social hours, but you do not need to respond at those times; just make it clear when you will respond to queries. One way of doing this is to create an automatic response that manages students’ expectations about when – and how quickly – they may expect a reply.
- Queries from online students may well be technical. Technical support is provided to students through the helpdesk.
- Students may also need assistance to understand the learning environment. Further information on how to use QMplus is available from the E-Learning Unit.
- Effective retention strategies are proactive, individual and motivational. Proactive strategies involve reaching out in a timely manner when students are struggling/disengaging. Signs of struggle may be evident through poor academic performance but also through low engagement with forums/online activities.
- Try to note who is engaging with course material and reach out to those that are not. While we should address the issues directly, the use of motivational language (noting the student's successes) can lead to more successful outcomes.