Online Program Development & Virtual Student Support

Now that we’ve explored a little bit more of the nuts and bolts behind the systems, let’s see those systems in action.  Online only programs – both degree and certificate – have grown significantly over the last 10 years, following the advances in technology that make that happen.  During this module you will be engaged in a structured exploration of online programs, some basics on what virtual support services are, and then creating work product to add to your ePortfolio.

GPS Icon denoting course and module-level objectivesCOURSE OBJECTIVES:

4.)  Critique an existing online program (degree or certificate).
5.)  Conduct an analysis of an institutional prioritization and integration of eStudent Services


  • 4a.)  Survey a range of online degree programs and models.
  • 5a.)   Describe the range of eStudent Services available.
  • 5b.)  Review the current offerings of a chosen institution.

Clipboard denoting to do list for the lessonFor this lesson, you will be completing the following activities:

  • Read and view the curated resources for Online Programs on Padlet.
  • Engage in the curated resources for Virtual Student Support in
  • Take notes in your Reflection and Participation Journal.
  • Complete:  Blog post on Online Program Critique.
  • Complete:  Learning object on eStudent Services (aka Virtual Student Support).
  • Share/Submit:  Post the links to BOTH your blog post and your learning object on the appropriate discussion forum.

Tree icon denoting reflection journal As you read the articles, watch the videos, and note the research presented in this module, be sure to reflect on each resources in your journal.

Curated Resources for Online Programs

Online programs have grown widely, along with online courses.  Some colleges are either entirely online or have large online presences, like Liberty University, Capella University, University of Phoenix, and Southern New Hampshire University.  Both for-profit and not-for-profit universities have a plethora of available degree programs.

Book icon denoting reading activity  Read and explore the embedded resources below in a curation on Padlet.  There are specific contextual directions for each resource, so be sure to read the directions as you go along.

Made with Padlet

Virtual Student Support

Different online programs (or hybrid programs) provide different types of support.

Cuyahoga Community College

When I worked at Cuyahoga Community College, I was fortunate enough to be part of a grant to approach online student success holistically.  The Title III grant was designed to improve student and faculty success through a range of interventions and support structures.

Video Icon  Watch the below video and note the different types of support structures put into place to support online students.

Western Governors University

Western Governors University is a competency-based institution that utilizes a variety of distributed faculty roles in order to support the students.

Book icon denoting reading activity  Read this webpage About WGU Faculty from Western Governors University.  Note the different types of faculty roles.  Reflect on how those roles are different from a traditional institution.  Are there also similarities?

Do you know what a degree program that is competency-based means?  It is one of the differentiators of Western Governors University.

Video Icon  View the below video; WGU describes their competency-based programs.  Note similarities and differences from your own college experience.

Penn State World Campus

Penn State University has a large online presence called World Campus.  Some of the support services available at Penn State World Campus are described in this selection from their site quoted below.

We can help you:

— get started by walking you through the course application process, including identifying the required supporting documentation; finding financial aid, scholarships, and other types of financial support; and preparing you for learning in an online environment

— use our University systems so you can access course syllabi and assignments; interact with professors and peers; make tuition payments; get your textbooks and software through the online bookstore; and use the University Libraries system, the 9th largest research library in North America, with a collection of more than 662 online research databases, 386,000 e-books, 105,000 scholarly journals (many available online and in full text) and 7.3 million print materials (books, maps, CDs, DVDs, and more) available for check out.

take advantage of resources for online students including undergraduate advising, career counseling, exam proctoring, tech support, and tutoring in writing and several math-related fields.

— link with communities and special services for military members and veterans, international students, alumni, corporate education, students with disabilities, and those transferring from other universities and colleges

— stay connected in the Penn State community by keeping you up-to-date with events, important dates, and Penn State news

determine if Transitions, a college and career prep class is a good fit for you. Participants in the nine-week course offered free of charge are selected after a discussion with the faculty. Structured like a standard online course, Transitions eases students back into the learning environment, while helping to improve basic skills, such as computer, study skills and research. The course also provides resources for understanding financial aid and career planning. An admissions counselor can tell you more about possible involvement in the course.

Video Icon  Watch the below video that describes what online student support is available at Penn State World Campus.


Stop Icon This is the end of our lesson on Online Program Development and Virtual Student Support.