topic 5: supporting learners

Rationale:  Student learning support is a key area in the provision of a ‘quality’ educational experience in formal settings. Students expect academic, technical, administrative  and pastoral support as part of their educational provision. Successful student support has a marked and positive impact on retention, progression, completion rates and overall student satisfaction – this can be even more so for students studying at a distance. In this unit participants will have the opportunity to explore a variety of contemporary conceptions of online tutoring and online facilitation derived, including peer-support and peer-tutoring models, from theory and research and consider their initial experiences of good and effective practice in the support of flexible, blended and online learning provisions offered by institutions to own students and external learners.


Helping others grow? What works?
image source

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit, you will have had the opportunity to

  1. discuss supporting learners, approaches and challenges
  2. reflect on supporting learners in your own practice
  3. review in PBL groups supporting learners features of the chosen scenario

Activities/tasks for all learners

  1. Google + FDOL community (new link): Discuss aspects of digital literacies in participants’ professional context with peers and comment on each others’ contributions.
  2. Twitter: During this fifth topic you are encouraged to continue to use your Twitter account. Remember to use the hashtag #fdol141 when tweeting. Why not share a resource you have found useful.
  3. Reflection: Reflect on how you support learners. Are there opportunities for further development in this area you have now identified as a result of your engagement in this tpic? Comment and invite others to comment on yours.
  4. Reflecting through images: Have a look at the image below and think about in the context of this unit. Then reflect on your experiences. Have you felt like this before in a learning situation? What did this mean for your learning/teaching?

Additional activities/tasks for learners within PBL group


“I write all that stuff on my blog, what I am learning on my course, but I can’t see anybody commenting. Is anybody actually visiting my blog and reading my reflections and work? I can’t tell. I am really spending a lot of time putting everything together so that it looks nice and I use images and videos too to lighten it up a bit and make my blog more interesting and while I do it for me as all this helps me learn, it would be nice, I have to admit, if some people would stop by and let me know what they think. Do they agree, disagree with what I say? Is any of this stuff of value for others? I am just writing this for myself? If I do, why does it need to be online? I could just type away in a Word document.. we have been asked to keep this blog for my course but just writing into a black hole? Where are my peers and is my tutor not going to give me any feedback at all before the end of the semester?”

  1. Study the scenario: or contribute your own.
  2. Investigate the chosen scenario: Consider using the COOL FISh framework and adapt as it suits the group.
  3. Share you findings: At the end of this topic share your main findings in a creative way in the FDOL  community.
  4. Reflection: Reflect individually and in your PBL group on your learning.


suggested readings1. Online learning: it is all about dialogue, involvement, support and control – according to the research, by Marion Coomey and John Stephenson available here2. Motivating learners in open and distance learning: Do we need a theory of  learner support? by Ormond Simpson, available here3. The 3E Framework by Keith Smyth, available hereadditional resourcesFDOL diigo group at check this learners’ generated collection and add further resources you find useful and link well with this unit. Remember to use tags and comment on resources shared by others.

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