Supporting Online Students, written by Anita Crawley, is a brand new publication that specifically positions itself as a "guide to planning, implementing, and evaluation services" within an online learning context. I came upon it while perusing the selection of books at the Jossey-Bass booth at this year's NASPA Annual Conference. In a previous post on this blog, I asked about whether or not the Student Affairs profession was ready to support online learners and I think that this book is a great introduction to the topic. While I'm only about half-way through the 262 page tome, what I've read thus far should be required reading for all Student Affairs graduate programs. With institutions like Southern New Hampshire University making massive inroads into the online learning space, the Student Affairs profession needs to be preparing today for a future that is already upon us.
In Supporting Online Students, a variety of resources are mentioned. To complement the book, Crawley has created a companion website that contains a plethora of resources. Crawley has created an impressive text (and website). Her contributions to the dialog around Student Affairs and supporting online students have been ongoing and I'm excited that Jossey-Bass published this book.
At NASPA's Annual Conference, there appeared to be only a single session that was dedicated to the conversation around supporting online students. I'm hoping for an increase in sessions on this topic at next year's conference. When thousands of students are actively participating in online-only learning, this topic is no longer a fringe issue. We have a professional mandate to serve all students -- on-campus and online.
An idea for next year's NASPA Annual Conference might be to invite a company like Campus Labs to co-present with a group of Student Affairs professionals who are focused on supporting online students. Assessment efforts will be extremely necessary for generating big picture conversations around how Student Affairs will create structures for support and engagement.
This is an exciting time for Student Affairs...my recommendation, read Supporting Online Students, and you will get even more excited!
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