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Student Support in Distance Education Resource Review

Heather Riser

University of Maryland University College

OMDE 608 9040 Learner Support in Distance Education and Training

Assignment 1


The following is a comparison of resources supporting Unit 1, A History and Overview

of Learner Support in Distance Education in OMDE 608 Learner Support in Distance Education

and Training. Resources reviewed include articles supporting Unit 1.1 Learner Support Systems

Overview, Unit 1.2 Tutoring, Teaching and Learning, Advising and Counseling, and Unit 1.3,

Library and Administrative Support Services. In each subunit article, a focus will be placed on

attainment of specific learning objectives as outlined by the course syllabus and unit overview.

The purpose of the resource comparison is to make recommendations of required course readings

within each subunit supporting Unit 1 of this course.


Each of the three subsections within Unit 1 contain a selection of required readings. The

readings were analyzed based on content of article meeting at least one course objective within

the subunit. Using UMUC library services and the web, a search based on similar unit objectives

key words was conducted to locate articles with similar content. Each of the two articles within

the subunit are annotated and compared based on specific criteria. A recommendation is made to

include one of the two contrasted articles per subunit in the course required readings selections.


Each article reviewed within the subunit, one required and one selected based on UMUC

library search of unit objective keywords were compared based on the following criteria. Each

article is rated based on the degree to which it meets the chosen criteria and the articles with the

highest score within each subunit is selected for recommendation to required course readings.

1. Summary: Detailed and thorough summary of subunit topic

2. Learning Outcome: Meets required learning outcome for the subunit
3. Current Trends: Represents and applies to current trends in distance education

Unit 1.1, Learner Support Systems Overview a focus was placed on identifying the

evolving role of learner support. The required reading that was selected is Learner Support in

Online Distance Education: Essential and Evolving by Jane Brindley, 2014.

Brindley discusses the evolving roles of learner support in a distance education platform.

The author begins with a general overview of the purposes of support services within an

institution, and purposes of support services. Categories of learner support services are discussed

including library services, academic skills development, administrative services, peer support

forums, and advising and counseling.

Further Brindley discusses distance teaching and learning theories that have had an

impact on the development of support services provided by and institution. In addition, the

author discusses the effect advances in technologies, student satisfaction and needs assessment

surveys, attrition research, have had on identifying needs in learner support services to prevent

drop out and provide best practices in learner support.

An article by Floyd and Casey-Powell (2004), New Roles for Student Support Services in

Distance Learning was selected for comparison. The authors address the challenges colleges

face in providing support services successfully online to aid both students and faculty and

suggest utilization of online assessment tools to evaluate existing services within and institution

and identify areas of need.

Floyd and Casey-Powell suggest the use the Inclusive Student Services Process Model

to meet the support needs of students. This model includes various phases of support which

moves with the student throughout their distance education career. These phases include Learner

Intake, Intervention, Support, Transition and Measurement. Phases are defined as they follow

learner from recruitment to career path support. The authors stress the importance of a distance

learning support system as technology based, learner-centered, and user-friendly. Although the

authors specifically focus on distance education at the community college level, this model of

services can be applied at any level of distance education to assist in student success rates.

Based on criteria it is recommended that Brindley (2014) remain on the course list. Both

articles provide an in-depth summary of the evolving roles of learner support in distance

education and meet the learning outcome as outlined in subunit 1.1. Both articles describe

learner support functions and discuss the evolving roles of learner support. However, the Floyd

and Casey-Powell (2004) article is dated and given the changing landscape of distance education,

it does lack a degree of relevance. Regardless, it represents a good foundation in learner’s

support roles, but Brindley (2014), offers a more current investigation in identified roles of

learner support services.

Unit 1.2, Tutoring, Teaching and Learning, Advising and Counseling in Distance

Education, focused course objective, explaining theoretical approaches to tutoring and teaching

and learning and advising and counseling in distance education.

The required reading by Newbury and DeLuca (2014), Building a Foundation for

Success Through Student Services for Online Learners was selected. The authors address a

theoretical foundation for student success by proposing the “COMFORT” model geared at

assisting and supporting online learners. The institution in which the model is being put into

practice is Duquesne University in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and was developed by the authors

based on best practices and research assessing and responding to online student support services

within the university.

The results of their research are the basis of the COMFORT Model. The model is

multifaceted and covers a wide range of student services. COMFORT stands for services

including, Communication, Orientations, Maintenance, Feedback, Outreach, Resources, and

Team-Based Approach.

The selected article by Tait (2000), Planning Student Support for Open and Distance

Learning was chosen for comparison. The author discusses a framework for developing student

support services in open and distance education institutions. Tait (2000) suggests after

identification of student needs, services should be presented such that they are uniform for all

learners. The author also identifies the primary functions of support for learners as cognitive,

affective, and systemic and elaborates on the separation of support roles within these functions.

The article provides an overview and summary of Tait’s Framework for Student Support

Service Systems which serves as a model for open and distance learning institutions to assess the

needs of their students so that the primary goal of a learning institution can be met, to aid in

student success.

Although it is recognized that Tait’s (2000) article is dated, it is determined that the

selected reading by Tait (2000) warrants selection to required readings for Subunit 1.2. based on

the criteria. Newbury and Deluca (2014) set up a framework for learner support within one

specific institution. It serves as an example of support service structure that meets the needs of

that specific university that perhaps other institutions may model. Tait’s (2000) article outlines a

general student support service framework that has stood the test of time. It has served as a

foundation for many Distance Education institutions to target specific learner support needs and

make necessary improvements for students to effectively access and utilize the support services.

The model applies regardless of time and changing technology and as a result would prove

beneficial for review based on the context of this course.


Unit 1.3, Library and Administrative Support Services course objectives include,

describing the different types of services which fall under the general heading of library and

other administrative support services.

The required course reading by Corbett and Brown (2015), The Roles that Librarians and

Libraries Play in Distance Education Settings was reviewed. The authors discuss the shifting

roles of libraries and librarians in response to the growing field of distance education and online

learning. A brief history of traditional brick and mortar librarian roles is discussed and compared

to current utilization of “embedded librarians” in Distance Education who provide services

outside the library walls. Corbett and Brown (2015) review basic services provided by online

library services and the impacts technology has had on the availability of accessing resources

online. In addition, librarians must be current on technologies and programs and available to

students 24/7.

This article also reviews current guidelines and policies that have been developed to

ensure library services are support the learning needs of the distance education student. The

authors describe the benefits of embedded librarians within distance education settings as well

has challenges of meeting the demands of a diverse population of students. Further, the

necessity of continuing education for online librarians is stressed to keep current with technology

and research skills, in addition to services that librarians may provide to online and distant

learners in the future.

Primus’ (2009), Distance Learning Library Services, by was selected in comparison to

the required reading by Corbett and Brown (2015). The author discusses the important roles of

modern libraries and librarians in distance education and reviews the variety of technology-based

resources that are provided utilized by library services to support distance learners. The

necessity of library services for online students is stressed as local access may be unattainable.

The author also mentions standards and guidelines for library services.

The bulk of this article reviews communication technologies utilized by virtual librarians

ranging from personal communication outlets like instant messenger to Blogs and Wikis, and

virtual library worlds. The author emphasizes the necessity in distance learning for a shift in

librarian’s roles from “place-based” to “any place” so that online learners can access this support

system anytime, anywhere.

Based on the criteria, Primus (2009) as well as Corbett and Brown (2015), meet the

outlined criteria. Although Primus’ (2009) article is a bit dated by a few years, the article does

an excellent job outlining the current trends in technology that library services can and should

offer as a necessity to reach the needs of a diverse population of students regardless of time or

space. This article outlines the variety of technological media available and the benefits of

incorporating a wide range of services and ways to access them. As a result, it is recommended

that this article be included as a required or perhaps optional reading in the subunit of the course.


It is recommended based on the criteria that the following articles be included as required

readings for each specific subunit in Unit 1, A History and Overview of Learner Support in

Distance Education. Rating of articles based on criteria is demonstrated in Table 1.

Table 1. Article Ratings Based on Criteria

Subunit: Author Summary Learning Applies to Current Total

Outcome Trends
1.1: Brindley (2014) 3 3 3 9
1.1: Floyd and Casey-Powell (2004) 3 3 1 7
1.2: Newbury and Deluca (2014) 3 3 2 8
1.2: Tait (2000) 3 3 3 9
1.3: Corbett and Brown (2015) 3 3 2 8
1.3: Primus (2009) 3 3 3 9

Recommended readings based on criteria ranking per subunit.

 Unit 1.1: Learner Support Systems Overview

o Brindley, J. (2014). Learner support in online distance education: Essential

and evolving. In O. Zawacki-Richter & T. Anderson (Eds.), Online
distance education: Towards a research agenda (pp. 287-310).

 Unit 1.2 Tutoring, Teaching and Learning, Advising and Counseling

o Tait, A. (2000). Planning Student Support for Open and Distance

Learning. Open Learning, 15(3), 287-299.

 Unit 1.3, Library and Administrative Support Services.

o Primus, S. (2009). Distance learning library services. Distance Learning,

6(1), 22-26


Brindley, J. (2014). Learner support in online distance education: Essential and evolving. In O.

Zawacki-Richter & T. Anderson (Eds.), Online distance education: Towards a research

agenda (pp. 287-310). Retrieved from



Corbett, A., & Brown, A. (2015). The roles that librarians and libraries play in distance

education settings. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 18(2). Retrieved

from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/summer182/corbett_brown182.html

Floyd, D. L., & Casey-Powell, D. (2004). New roles for student support services in distance

learning. New Directions for Community Colleges, 2004(128), 55-64 Retrieved from:


Newbury, R. & DeLuca, C. (2014). Building a foundation for success through student services

for online learners. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17(4). Retrieved from


Primus, S. (2009). Distance learning library services. Distance Learning, 6(1), 22-26 Retrieved




Tait, A. (2000). Planning Student Support for Open and Distance Learning. Open Learning,

15(3), 287-299. doi:10.1080/026805100750036890