The concept of instruction as learner support is not new to distance educators is the UK. But we are not there yet. In fact, most people don’t know quite what defines “learner support”. Is it student services? Student development? Learning support? Where does instruction fit? In fact, in it’s most broad definition, learner support encompasses all of these things. Mary Thorpe, Director of the Institute for Educational Technology at the Open University, UK descibes learner support this way:
Learner support is defined as all those elements capable of responding to a known learner or group of learners, before, during and after the learning process.
In distance education, instructors are often the lynch pin holding various elements together that comprise learner support. Part of my job is to ensure that instructors are supported in this role. UBC’s TAG provides excellent support to instructors and we are beginning to work together to determine how to meet the informal needs for support – given stretched resources.
Here’s a recent wiki supplement to a teleconference session that we organized “on the fly” for a group of instructors from the Faculty of Land and Food Systems interested in improving their online discussions.