Unit 1: The lifelong distance learner - Supporting Distance Learners in the 21st Century

Unit 1: The lifelong distance learner


Your initial thoughts when you looked at this website might have been something along the lines of 'Oh, that’s a great idea... I’d love to support my learners more, but I hardly have time to do the basics, let alone provide extra support!' If so, you are not alone. The main aim of this unit is to provide you with some ideas for supporting learners from the start of a programme that will actually save you time in the long run.

In this unit, we also look at some of the resources that are available to support a special kind of lifelong learner - the distance educator.


Tick the things you would like to be able to do by the end of this unit:

1. Identify the aspects that your learners are likely to find easy and difficult about learning at a distance and using technology in their learning.

2. Establish a friendly, inviting atmosphere at the start of a programme

3. Clarify expectations with learners at the start of the learning programme

4. Discuss the different ways in which learners can be supported in three different kinds of e-learning programmes: web-supplemented, web-dependent and fully online

Create a questionnaire for your learners to find out how prepared they are for e-learning in your particular context (i.e. web-supplemented, web-dependent or fully online).

6. Reflect on your tutoring role in relation to a set of national quality criteria for learner support in distance education. (See the section on 'Learner support quality criteria'.)

7. Identify some resources for your own professional development

Use your selected outcomes to help you decide which parts of the unit to focus on in the greatest depth.

Reading and reflection

Click on the following links to access the materials for this unit:

Learners speak about learning online
Clarifying expectations with learners
It's not about computers - it's about people!
Netiquette and other niceties
Supporting learners in blended and fully online environments
Case studies: delivering e-learning in South Africa

Apply this!

Evaluate yourself against the NADEOSA quality criteria for learner support.

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