An important aspect that determines the quality of a study experience is the level of support that students receive. Many students worry that online institutions will not be able to provide the support that they need. This concern is increasingly being recognized by online education providers, and many are working hard to ensure that students’ needs are met in this important area. The main concern that potential students have regarding support is the lack of face-to-face help that an online course provides; however, by using technology such as video calling in addition to the more traditional phone and email, virtual institutions are increasingly bridging the gap between online and on-campus student support.
Student Support Teams
A dedicated Student Support team often exists in many institutions; the sole function of this team is to provide pastoral care and support. Online (and part-time) students can experience problems and issues that are unique to this mode of study, and it’s important that the team you liaise with are experienced and sympathetic to this. Their advice can cover financial troubles to family commitments, and can range from minor technology niggles all the way up to something as major as a bereavement.
This isn’t the only support you receive on an online course; your fellow students are also a great source of help and advice. Using online discussion forums provided by the institution, WhatsApp and even Facebook groups, students can create an online community that supports each classmate as they overcome obstacles together as a group.
When you’re researching your course, make sure to check the student satisfaction ratings from the independent National Student Survey (NSS) to ensure you’ll receive the student support you deserve.
In-house & Freelance Tutors
The role that personal and pastoral support plays in an online student’s success cannot be overstated. However, academic support also plays a vital role in creating a supportive learning environment.
Online institutions vary, but many utilize a combination of in-house and freelance tutors to create and deliver their courses. These tutors will be subject experts and will be able to give academic guidance and feedback at any point in the course.
Academic feedback can sometimes be tough to receive, particularly if you’ve put a great deal of effort into a piece, but this can often be the first step towards improvement and greater confidence. Your tutors will always provide constructive commentary, giving tips and advice for the future, and this can then lead to improved confidence in decision-making and broader subject-specific understanding.
Depending on the institution, your tutor should also be available for individual sessions, and you should also be able to contact your tutor directly. Individual sessions with your tutor will enable you to ask questions about topics covered within the course, and also to request further feedback on your progress and areas of development.
During your course research, make sure you’ll receive the academic support you’ll need; check the office hours and availability of your tutors, the turnaround time for receiving your grades and the qualifications of the course leaders.
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The content of this Study Online guide has been written by University of Essex Online.
About University of Essex Online
University of Essex Online is an online education institution offering online and part-time degree courses in subjects including business, management, marketing, law, criminology, psychology, public health, infection control and an MBA. Students are supported by their own dedicated Student Adviser and receive quality teaching from industry leaders and subject experts while studying within a cutting-edge virtual learning environment. To learn more about University of Essex Online, click here.