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Athabasca University


MDDE 650: Tutoring and Student Support in Distance Education and Training

Delivery mode: Online course using Moodle

Credits: 3 - Elective

Prerequisites: MDDE 601, MDDE 602 for MEd program students only

Instructor: Roger Powley



This course is intended to assist you in creating your own tutoring and student support system. The course will introduce you to some variations in tutoring and student support and to some critical concepts and issues. The course goals will require you to use your own experience, course materials and materials from the literature in order to:

  • critically analyze concepts, issues and problems in the provision of tutoring and student support;

  • analyze and critique practices and plans for the provision of tutoring and student support services; and,

  • prepare a plan for tutoring and student support.

You may also have additional goals or objectives for your own tutoring and student support system that can be discussed during the computer conferences.


Course Outline

Unit 1: Concepts and Conceptual Frameworks

This unit introduces a number of concepts and conceptual frameworks that are relevant to tutoring and student support systems. You will be encouraged to explore these and other concepts further as they relate to your own interests and concerns. Note that there are many terms used in the field, some, interchangeably. For example, the terms “distance education” and “distance learning” may be used synonymously with the term “open and distance learning (ODL).” Many people use the term “online learning” interchangeably with distance learning; however, in this course, online learning is used specifically to refer to those distance learning applications which are predominantly associated with the use of information and communications technologies (ICTs). In this course the term “training” is used synonymously with the term “workplace learning.”

Unit 2: The Elements and Administration of Tutoring and Student Support Systems

In this unit, you will analyse and discuss how tutoring and student support systems in ODL and workplace learning are used to fulfil functions associated with both academic and non-academic support for a variety of types of students using a variety of local, regional, and/or central services. You will examine the roles, functions and elements of tutoring and student support systems and how or when they require adaptations to deal with circumstances associated with curricula, clients and technological systems. You will also examine the organization, administration and evaluation of tutoring and student support systems.

Unit 3: Designing a Tutoring and Student Support System

In this unit you will focus on the development of a tutoring and student support system for curricula and clients identified by you. The activities will focus on: how the elements might be organized; what elements may be included; and, how the system may be assessed, evaluated and revised. You will be encouraged to bring your own plans to the computer conferences and to comment on and critique the thinking and planning reflected in your own and your colleague’s plans.


Student Evaluation

Assignment 1:

Complete a review and critique of a selected article.


Assignment 2:

Complete and present a review and critique of a selected article.


Assignment 3:

Prepare a tutoring and student support plan for a population ofstudents in a program of your choice.






Course Organization and Structure

The course consists of the following components:

  • Study Guide containing overviews, objectives, resources, activities and commentaries.

  • Assigned electronic resources.

  • Two textbooks.

    1. Crawley, A.  (2012).  Supporting online students: A guide to planning, implementing and evaluating services.  First Edition.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 
    2. Simpson, O. (2012). Supporting students in online, open and distance learning. London: Kogan Page Ltd.

  • a selection of URLs for current and emerging issues in the field; and,
  • a number of computer conferences in which issues, problems and questions necessary to the understanding of how tutoring and student support systems relate to successful distance education and training will be discussed.

Get Started Early

Early access to the Learning Management System, Moodle, begins one week before the official start date of your course, at that time you will have limited access to the course. On the Official Start Date of the course, instructors will be available and the discussion forums will automatically become active.


Last updated by MM April 24, 2017

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