Timing tools and support in a course

support I would like to investigate if it is possible to concentrate on specific tools and support  as course continues and also when we could rely on and develop students inner motivations to continue the course and not drop out. The questions for this short post is (1): Which tools could be used for all this? When would for example tools for face-to-face contact, for peer support, and so on be most effective?

When needed

What is needed

When course start

When in the middle of a course When course ends
tools that could be used Community-building tools

Online resources and printed materials

Community-building tools

Face-to-face contact

Online resources and printed materials

Community-building tools

Face-to-face contact

Engaging with relevant professional groups

support that is needed Registration

Technological support

Library resources: how to search databases

Facilitate the building of study groups

Encourage peer support and greater participation from all students

Technological support

Feedback on assignments

Encourage peer support and greater participation from all students

Assistance in writing papers and referencing (web-based resources)

Technological support

Feedback on assignments

Encourage peer support and greater participation from all students

Assistance in writing papers and referencing (web-based resources)

when/how could we trust on and develop existing strengths in students Emphasise the positive during initial contact Identify underlying values, goals and motivation

Identify resources, protective factors and potentials of learners

Focus on existing assets and competencies

Encourage narration (life story, putting life in perspective, making sense of it)

Building psycho-social connections between peers

Validate effort rather than achievement.

Draw out past successes and high point moments

Encourage ‘positive affect’ (hope and elevated thoughts)

Emphasised psycho-social connections within the study groups

Validate effort rather than achievement..

It seems to me that many of these tools, supportive actions or trust on students strengths don’t focus on difficulties to finish a course. They may work well in the middle of a course but to me it has become obvious that we need special tools and support aimed for the last months or weeks of a course to prevent students from droping out. At the end of a course it often becomes harder  and harder for learners to keep up the good work as thoughts on the life without the course emerges as a possible reality. Then we should focus on community-building tools ,tools for face-to-face contact and to  engage students in relevant professional groups. We ought to continue with a high standard of technological support, give supportive feedback on assignments, encourage peer support and greater participation from all students and give assistance in writing papers and referencing litterature. At the end of a course it also becomes more important to draw out past successes and high point moments from the course, give and encourage ‘positive affect’ (such as hope and elevated thoughts), emphasise psycho-social connections within the study groups and validate effort rather than achievement.

(1) Thanks to Fariborz Zelli for summing up this weeks litterture in our G+ document (that is: Simpson, O. (2008). Motivating learners in open and distance learning: do we need a new theory of learner support?. Open Learning, 23(3), 159-170; The 3E Framework by Keith Smyth; Anderson, T. (Ed.). (2008). The theory and practice of online learning (pp 419-439). Athabasca University Press)

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