As an online student, you may wonder what to do if you run into problems during your web-based studies. Will you have someone to advise you if you’re struggling or to help you plan out your roadmap of what courses to complete at what times? Does your school have any sort of knowledgeable support staff working with instructors to design online courses to make students as successful as possible? Increasingly, online colleges – and brick-and-mortar colleges embracing online as well as traditional education models – are creating offices dedicated to e-learning support.

The Development of Online Learning Centers

Offices committed to the support of online studies are called online learning centers. They can make such a significant difference to your online education experience that U.S. News & World Report considers “Is there a well-run online learning center?” to be among the most important questions online students should ask. Community colleges with large (and growing) online course offerings, especially, consider these offices to be a necessary component of online instruction.

Online Learning Centers’ Role in Course Development

Online learning centers begin helping students even before a given course actually exists. Staff plays a crucial role in developing of online courses. This is important, because many professors are still adapting to the format of online college courses. Support staff can help these instructors develop coursework and materials that are interactive and engaging – which means that you are getting a higher quality education.

How Online Learning Centers Help Students

Support offices don’t only help online students indirectly. They can also help students directly by providing advising services and technical support.

Academic advising services can be very important for college students. Advisors can help students determine their educational path to achieve their goals and take the right courses at the right times to make sure they don’t fall behind schedule. If students are struggling in a course, advisors can help them understand their options and direct them to help and tutoring services available through the school. While traditional students typically have access to advisers they can meet in-person, online students need advisors who understand the online learning process specifically and who can direct them to online, rather than in-person only, tutoring and academic support services.

In many schools, technical support also falls into the domain of the online learning center. Knowing that your school has an office dedicated specifically to supporting online instruction, you can feel assured that you can still take online college courses even if you’re not tech-savvy. If you need technical help, the solution may be as simple as calling or emailing tech support personnel, or visiting the online learning center in person, if you’re not far from the physical campus.

Online learning centers add many benefits to e-learning. When support staff members get involved in developing coursework for an online format, classes become more effective. These offices also help students by providing technical support for problems and offering advising and tutoring services.