Pursuit of Online Services for Online Students

Pursuit of Online Services for Online Students

Michael D. Richardson, Gina Sheeks, Robert E. Waller, Pamela A. Lemoine
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2878-5.ch003
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Increasing numbers of university students are studying online. Distance learning enrollment in global higher education has increased dramatically in the past two decades due to the ubiquity of technology, increasing diversification and globalization, and use of new advanced technology. The development of online learning programs has focused primarily on implementing educational technology to deliver academic content while enhancing the online learning experience. A significant element for the success of distance education programs is the provision of student support services that are appropriate to the unique needs of distance learners. Technology has facilitated this new era in global higher education making the utilization of technology essential to provide university support for online clients. Student support services are all kinds of services other than the coursework rendered by the institutions to online students/learners to facilitate their success.
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Technology is providing a global interconnectedness that reshapes educational, social, economic and cultural life (Chan, Mense, Crain-Dorough, Richardson, & Lane, 2013). Globalization permits HEIs to expand their economic horizons by marketing new techniques for the delivery of services to all their students, specifically their online students (Connor & Rabovsky, 2011). A power shift is occurring in HE, driven by two trends: (a) the increased freedom of learners to access, create, and re-create content; and (b) the opportunity for learners to interact with each other outside of a mediating agent (Lemoine & Richardson, 2019). Information access and dialogue, previously under control of the educator, can now be readily accessed by online learners (Flavin, 2016).

Given the tremendous employment and financial benefits that accrue to those with postsecondary credentials, providing greater access to educational resources is essential (Bendixen & Jacobsen, 2017). While traditional brick-and-mortar institutions provide one viable and valuable path to postsecondary education, there is a need for more and more varied venues for learners, particularly those learners who are place- or time-bound due to work, family, or other commitments, to obtain HE (Allen & Seaman, 2011; Srivastava, Gendy, Narayanan, Arun, & Singh, 2012).

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