Wednesday, May 11, 2011

4 Keys to Student Success Online: Part 3

Note: While research regarding best practices for online learning is difficult to obtain due to the relative infancy of the industry, four key areas of focus critical to program success have been identified. This week I will be posting four keys to student success in online courses. These "best practices" were gleaned through research that I conducted through a wide variety of sources. This is part 3 of 4
Read Part #1 Here
Read part 2 here

3. Mentor Support:
Because students in an online program are typically not physically present at a specific location, an additional layer of student support, called the mentor, is strongly recommended. This adult supervisor assists in keeping track of a students overall progress whereas a teacher focuses on their progress in a particular course. Fride (2001 in Rice 2006) discovered that the amount of engagement by the adult supervisor seemed to influence the amount of and quality of participation by students.

Closely associated with mentor support is the importance of parental support (Rice 2006). Both the parent and the school mentor serve a similar role in being concerned for the overall progress and success of the student. The parent has the additional benefit of being physically present with the student allowing for a higher level of accountability. It is recommended that students have a mentor in addition to parental oversight.

Mentors are also called learning coaches or student advocates and is an important member of the learning team which includes the student, the teaching staff, and the parents. Most commonly the mentor is employed by the school however some schools require students to find their own mentor (a parent or other adult) who is kept appraised of the students progress and is used as the primary contact for the school.

Nearly all online schools have identified the mentor as a critical role on the academic team and offer this service as an amenity included with tuition.

Rice, Kerry Lynn. "A Comprehensive Look at Distance Education in the K-12 context." Journal of Research on Technology in Education 38.4 (2006): 425-448. Web. 29 Apr 2011. .

Allen, I. Elaine, and Jeff Seaman. "Learning on Demand: Online Education in the United States, 2009." Sloan Consortium. The Sloan Consortium, January 2010. Web. 29 Apr 2011.

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