Thorpe claims that learner support “is essentially about roles, structures and environments, and therefore: support roles and supportive people, together with support structures and supportive environments” (Thorpe, 2002). Students must have service support in terms of registering for class and handling financial aid as well as support on how to be successful in the classroom and each learner requires their own unique support. I think that Thorpe’s claims are still relevant for today’s online learners.
About 6 years ago, I took an online summer course at small community college. Since I was a full time student at another institution, I was not familiar with the college just that it was convenient for me to take the course there instead of at my university. There was no orientation program set up for new online students and so I did not know where to access information about campus deadlines, financial aid, or advising. Also, the course that I took was an “off the shelf” course that was not customized to program and so I watched videos and took exams. There was not interaction between the professor running the course and the students, or between the students, other than to report grades and announce exams. Reflecting upon this experience and the article, I think that it is truly essential to have synchronous and asynchronous courses because the support that students receive from their professor and classmates play a major role in that students ability to be successful in the course.
I have recently revisited the community college’s online learning website and I can tell that how over the past 6 years they have made drastic changes to learner support. The website has links for technology usage training, frequently asked questions, how to get in contact with an advisor, etc.