Not Too Distant: A Survey Of Strategies For Teacher Support In Distance Education Programs


Distance learning can be a “very lonely” experience (Brown & Early, cited by Prescott & Robinson, 1993). This isolation exacerbates all of the many issues that can occur when learners are separated from their instructor and other learners via distance. Difficulties understanding content, computer problems, uncertainty about how to employ a strategy, and disappointment when a new pedagogical approach fails are all magnified when teachers confront these issues alone. High rates of attrition in distance-based teacher training courses are in large measure due to these feelings of isolation and “anonymity” (Potashnik & Capper, 1998; Hope, 2006). Indeed, without “support, contact and confidence,” distance learning is not considered by learners to be “valuable” (Brown & Early, 1990; Prescott & Robinson, 1993, p. 306). This paper presents a recent historical and global overview of the types of supports provided to distance education programs across the globe. Because of the diversity of distance-education programs, the paper includes a range of such modalities (print-based instruction, radio, television, and online learning).

KEYWORDS: Supports For Distance Learners; Follow-Up Support; Online Professional Development; Distance Learning; Help For Online Learners.