The Experiences of a Learner Support Person in the Online Education Environment

The Experiences of a Learner Support Person in the Online Education Environment

Chrisanna Mastorakis
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-9098-0.ch012
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This chapter presents the perspective of a learner support person from the online learning environment. Online learning issues, like feedback, at-risk behaviors, ethical issues, and more, are outlined in the chapter, and personal experiences are included to provide an insider's input. Characteristics of an effective instructor are discussed, as well as the overall structure of the online learning environment (the learning management system and course design), specifically through the lens of asynchronous online learning. Future research recommendations and solutions are addressed as they relate to online learning and from the perspective of teaching personnel, explicitly from an online graduate teaching assistant acting as a learner support person.
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EDITOR’S NOTE: The author of this chapter was part of a cadre of teaching assistants explicitly hired for the psychology First Course. Psychology had volunteered to initiate this innovative program as part of a university effort to increase retention among graduate learners in an exclusively online program. Later innovations included course evaluations for the teaching assistants, ongoing supervision and training for TAs, and opportunities to work in the innovation writing component of the course. Please refer to the chapter by Dr. Susan Myers for more on this course and the innovations in this endeavor.

The author was a teaching assistant (TA) for three years in an online, for-profit university. She worked with various lead instructors and was assigned to many sections of graduate courses, sometimes more than one section during a semester. Besides being an online student and engaging with different instructors, she collaborated with many instructors. From personal experience, defining an effective instructor is not an easy task. The author believes much has to do with the learner’s personal preference. Some learners perform better and prefer more firm instructors, while others prefer easy-going instructors. As the research outlined above, a few characteristics are associated with effective instructors, and a combination of those traits is the most accurate representation or definition of an effective teacher.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Online Learning: Learning occurs online, virtually, remote.

Teaching Assistant (TA): A person who assists the primary course instructor with teaching duties and tasks.

Learner Support Person: A person who performs the duties of a teacher or an instructor in a supportive manner, and the role extends to more than academic matters, like personally tailored support.

Online Learning Environment: The environment and setting of where learning takes place and is online.

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