Role of Student Support in Open & Distance Learning

Supporting the Students

Learning in a classroom setting can be difficult enough. However, attempting to learn in an open learning or distance learning setting can present even more issues. School districts strive to maintain equal access and inclusivity in their student support services. As a teacher or a school administrator, you know student support services are available to help students succeed as they work to reach their academic goals. These support personnel can include:

  • Counselors
  • Librarians
  • Nurses
  • Psychologists
  • Social Workers

Furthermore, with the technology now available, many school districts are utilizing apps to assist with student support services. For example, in the Huntington, West Virginia school district, the STOPit incident reporting app allows concerned students to feel confident enough to report any concern to school administrators in an anonymous and safe way.

For additional information, consult the following:

Challenges Students Face

What are some of the challenges your students face each day in an open or distance learning environment? They may include:

  • Trying to connect to their online classes
  • Issues with outdated equipment or slow online speed
  • Distractions at home such as television, radio, pets, or trips to the refrigerator
  • Not being able to immediately collaborate with other students
  • Not having a teacher readily available to help with questions

Ways to Help Your Students

The U.S. Department of Education oversees these student support organizations:

  • Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS)
  • Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE)
  • Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP)

Each state also has its own way of dealing with student support services. For example, the State of Florida has created its own Bureau of Student Support Services (BoSSS) to fulfill various student needs. The four levels of this multi-tiered methodology consist of:

  • Counseling
  • Nursing
  • Psychology
  • Social Work

Are you looking to take an online student survey to find out the needs of your students? Google Forms offers a user-friendly way to take pre-assessments, and the students can remain anonymous. Other similar resources include Google Classroom, Google Meet, Flipgrid, and WeVideo.

Some school districts offer assistance for students who don't speak English as their first language. For example, in Needham, Massachusetts, the English Language Learner Program (ELL) offers assistance to immigrant students. They are given a Home Language Survey (HLS) to evaluate their needs and based on their results, they are assigned a team that offers individualized instruction.

Another issue that falls under the domain of student support services is Bullying Prevention and Intervention, as cyberbullying is one of the most prevalent forms of bullying. In this case, the Needham School District offers a brochure that contains relevant cyber-safety tips.

What if a student is confined to their home or the hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic? Some schools have student support services that offer home tutoring or hospital tutoring to keep the student from falling behind in their studies.

How do your students learn to interact with one another if they aren't in the same classroom? Some school districts are teaching the concept of social and emotional learning (SEL) online to help students build positive relationships. Other school districts offer additional assistance to certain disadvantaged students. For instance, the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District offers valuable help to foster children and homeless children in its portfolio of student support services.

Finally, school districts offer Special Education (SE) students assistance, as these students often face unique challenges when utilizing online instruction. This can include social-emotional, speech, hearing, vision, and reading needs for the students.

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