Instructors set out to support their students to the best of their ability throughout the duration of a course. For online instructors, this need to support eLearners is even greater, as the online environment significantly affects the learner experience, especially in terms of interactions between instructor and students. Furthermore, each student’s individual learning background, skills, and motivations can either minimize or increase the impact of the online environment on their learning experience. Online instructors who recognize which student skills and motivations can help with the learning process will be better equipped to support their eLearners.
Why Is It important?
The impact the online environment can have on eLearners is due to two main factors: the requirement of technology and the physical separation of instructor and students. The first factor means that students must be proficient with technology in order to access course materials and communicate with others. The second factor—the physical separation—means that students have increased autonomy over their learning process, and, with that, increased responsibility and need for self-discipline. They might also have increased anxiety regarding the learning process. All of these elements require a heightened attention to supporting online learners.
How to Put Into Practice?
Instructors face both challenges and opportunities when it comes to supporting eLearners. Although they must take into account the same technological and physical factors of the online environment that impact the learning experience for students, instructors have the opportunity to counteract those challenges for students through a variety of support structures and strategies:
Reference: Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M. W., Lovett, M. C., DiPietro, M., & Norman, M. K. (2010). How learning works: 7 research-based principles for smart teaching.
Where to Find Resources?
- Consider Factors Influencing a Learner’s Decision to Drop-Out or Persist in Higher Education Distance Learning.
- Leverage this Welcome Letter Template.
- Download a syllabus checklist and template using Quality Matters standards.
Note: These resources link to UW-Madison Google App documents and will require a UW-Madison NetID login. Please read our instructions for logging into UW-Madison Google Apps.
The “Supporting eLearners” deep dive topic examines how the online environment affects the learners’ experience as well as the kinds of skills, motivations, and support needed to help students be successful.
Topics covered include:
- Student Success Factors
- Online Learning Skills
- Promoting Learner Motivation
- Scaffolding and Learner Supports
Note: This course is available for FREE to all UW-Madison faculty and staff. When you click the link you will be prompted to sign in with your UW-Madison NetID and password. Then you will be taken to the topic homepage where you can learn more and complete activities.