3. Supporting learning


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. Within this topic 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.

Scenario (as an animation text and audio)

“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?”

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. design a shareable top 10 list for effective strategies to support learning

Pick ‘n’ mix activities

Definitely do one of the following activities! If you are learning within a group, consider carrying out one of the below as a collaborative task. Remember to share on Twitter and in the other community spaces.

1. Responding: Create a response to the scenario on your own or with others based on the discoveries you made through investigating this. Remember, you might find the FISh model useful. (ilo-1)

2. Reflecting: Think about supporting learning and reflect on your current practice. Where are the challenges and opportunities? What could you do to help your students? (ilo-2)

3. Making: Create a poster that provides useful tips and reminder to self and others about how to support learning effectively. Find a way to curate this resource (ilo-3)

Suggested readings

1. Online learning: it is all about dialogue, involvement, support and control – according to the research, by Marion Coomey and John Stephenson available here

2. Motivating learners in open and distance learning: Do we need a theory of  learner support? by Ormond Simpson, available here

3. The 3E Framework by Keith Smyth, available here



  1. The link to the FISH model doesn’t work o this page or on Day 2!

    It’s http://remember%2C%20you%20could%20use/ which doesn’t look like a URL to me and my browser agrees responding with:

    This webpage is not available


    The server at remember%2C%20you%20could%20use can’t be found, because the DNS lookup failed. DNS is the network service that translates a website’s name to its Internet address. This error is most often caused by having no connection to the Internet or a misconfigured network. It can also be caused by an unresponsive DNS server or a firewall preventing Google Chrome from accessing the network.


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