From the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, Dianne Chambers of University of Melbourne writes:
The ‘Melbourne Model’ for supporting online students that is proposed recommends that institutions should put support procedures in place for each of these stages so that prospective and current online students have high quality experiences that are characterised by easy access to information, high quality learning experiences, and prompt, accurate and friendly responses to all enquiries. Academic staff are actively involved during the Participation stage (while students are enrolled in courses) and play the central role in the success of this stage. This stage is clearly important in influencing students’ perceptions of their experience with the institution, but it is by no means the only critical stage in a student’s journey from recruitment to graduation. Administrative staff are essential for the institution’s success in online teaching as they are key players during all stages of students’ online experiences. Seeing students’ experiences as a whole is essential for the student to move seamlessly through their journey of online education and for the institution to provide the support needed at each stage.
Some members of the online team at USQ have been thinking about support for students within programs but outside of courses and of ongoing relationships with alumni. This paper adds some useful elements of a framework for such a development.