Universities Academic Support Services invest significant amounts of money each year to support students on campus. As online programs continue to expand the question is being raised, are these same support services the right kind of support for our online learners? Do the online students use those services? Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) Steven Sachs, vice president for instructional and information technology at NOVA, addressed this topic in his talk at Educause 2012, “Engagement Beyond the LMS.” Are online students getting counseling for financial aid? Do they have access to tutoring? Are supports in place to help online students get jobs at the end of their program? Do they know how to get advice about graduation? Do online students who are falling behind get encouragement and support?
NOVA discovered that support services on campus were not meeting the needs of the online learner and invested $2 million in the “Next Level Initiative,” a project designed to recognize the needs of the online learner and provide support to them. Read more about the project at Inside Higher Ed, Calling In Web Support.