Student support


Student support is at the same heart of the student success.

Under a student-centred learning perspective, giving support to students is a powerful tool to engage them and increase retention, enhancing their academic performance, integration and satisfaction and promoting sustainability and continuity of education, that is, long life learning.

Meet Ángeles Sánchez Elvira Paniagua from UNED and listen to what she says about the expertise on student support.

Meet our experts on student support
Mehmet Firat, Anadolu University

Dr. Mehmet FIRAT is Associate Professor at Department of Distance Education. He is Deputy Head of Distance Education Department of Open Education Faculty at Anadolu University. Dr. Firat gained his Ph.D. in Educational Technology and Associate Professorship in Open and Distance Learning.

Dr. Firat has experiences on distance education, online learning and educational technologies since 2003. His academic interest areas are open and distance learning, e-learning, educational technologies, learning analytics, educational hypermedia, lifelong learning, cyber behaviors, use of internet in education. He has over than 70 journal articles, books and book chapters.

Mehmet contributed to the EMPOWER Envisioning report (4th Edition) with his article Bridging the Digital Divide Through ODL: Use of Sensitive Search for Student Support in ODL

He also contributed to the webinar week on Blended Learning in June 2019 with his presentation called: Why Diversity Matter in ODL? Case of Anadolu University 

Ormond Simpson, (former OUUK)

Ormond Simpson is a consultant in distance and online education, working recently as Visiting Fellow at the London University International Programmes. He was previously Visiting Professor at the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, and Director of the Centre for Educational Guidance and Student Support at the UK Open University.

He has given presentations and workshops Africa, South America, India, China, the West Indies, South Korea, and Europe. He is currently working on a chapter ‘Student Success’ for a book to be published by the New Mexico State University.

His interests are in student support and retention, cost-benefits of retention activities, ethics, and learning motivation.  His latest book is ‘Supporting Students for Success in Online and Distance Education’ (2012, Routledge).  He has written many book chapters and journal articles, which are freely available from his website    

Contributions to Empower activities

  1. Presentation  at webinar weeks
  1. Contributions to Envisioning Reports


Elisabeth Katzlinger, Johannes Kepler University Linz (JKU)

EMPOWER offers

The goal of this field of expertise is to empower students to become long-life self-directed and regulated learners in online and blended-learning environments. Empower experts can help those universities moving towards blended and online teaching and learning, to develop effective students’ support systems. The main reason is that learning environments mediated by ICTs generate different needs, difficulties and possibilities for students, so new ways to give them support are also required, as they need to be informed, oriented and trained in whatever they might need to become successful e-learners. Based on our experience and expertise, we can help to:

  • Organize supportive learning communities and networks, in general.
  • Design online and blended responsive personalized learning environments.
  • Deliver efficient student support in large and even massive courses.
  • Generate OER and Massive Open Online Courses to give students additional support they might need.
  • Elaborate global institutional actions to help students in different stages all along their studies, such as online induction programs for novel students.
  • Develop specific actions to help students with special needs.

We can also share our experience in helping students to become autonomous and self-determined learners in blended and online environments, thanks to the development of key competences, such as:

  • Basic and advance digital skills.
  • Self-regulated learning strategies.
  • Collaborative skills, peer-to-peer support.
  • Other generic and professional competences.

In short, as Open and Distance Universities, we can show what works for us with ICTs in the Student Support field and what does not, hoping to be helpful in the development of successful student support services in online and blended learning environments.



Learning Analytics for Student Support

The Analytics 4 Action Evaluation Framework (A4A) provides a methodologically sound approach to - using data analytics- identify issues with student performance and progression, and embeds this approach to evaluation with Student Services Teams, and module and qualification teams to support in-presentation and post-presentation improvements to student experience and outcomes. Using the Active Presentation Toolkit, Module Team members, supported by the TEL team, are enabled to identify number of different types of action that can be taken in-presentation to improve student outcomes. The TEL Design team have been running the A4A process for the past 12 months having transitioned the project into mainstream activity. By Rafael Hidalgo-Aponte (The Open University, United Kingdom)

12 September 2017

Institutional support for prospective and new students in online and distance education

Do you know what are the main necessities and difficulties of prospective and new students in blended and online learning environments? Do you know why they quit while giving their first steps in their studies?

Would you like to know how to design and implement effective induction programmes mediatedby ICT?

Would you like to know about innovative and creative ways to give support to students during their first academic year to prevent dropout and promote retention?

Research being done in distance education universities all over the world consistently reveals that students’ dropout takes place primarily during the first year and, even, before the exams of the first semester. That means that great efforts should be placed during this period of time to promote retention.

In this sense, induction programmes in blended and online learning programmes would require being implemented before students’ registration, and should be actively developed during early beginning of the first course and offered all along the first university year. Anyhow, any online training programme should look forward a good integration of participants, by designing its own induction plan. The main goal would be to improve students' retention and success and drop-out prevention.

In this webinar, some innovative experiences of induction programmes implemented at an institutional level, as well as good practices at giving support to prospective and new students will be introduced by international experts from different continents (UAB of Portugal, Open University of the Netherlands, Anadolu University of Turkey, UAPA of Dominican Republic and UNED). So, the institutional expertise at dealing with new students will be discussed and we will have the opportunity to know some innovative actions such as the awarded "Studiecoach" programme ofthe Open University of the Netherlands. By:

  • Angeles Sánchez-Elvira Paniagua. UNED, Spain (chair)
  • António Moreira Teixeira. UAB, Portugal.
  • Marion Stevens. Open University of the Netherlands
  • Magdalena Cruz Benzán. UAPA, Dominican Republic
  • Mehmet Firat. ANADOLU University, Turkey

14 February 2017

Theories of Student Support for Retention

“There is nothing” Kurt Lewin wrote, “as practical as a good theory”. This presentation looks at some of the theories that might be practical help in supporting students for retention. In particular it will look at learning motivation theories and how to help students keep their drive to learn. By Ormond Simpson (Former OUUK)

16 March 2017

Innovative Student Support Solutions for Large Groups

Do you know how mega-universities cope with the challenge to give support to large number of students in blended and online environments?

Would you like to know some good and innovative solutions to attend students’ necessities mediated by ICT when numbers increase?

Open and distance education universities are among the largest ones in the world by number of students enrolled. A quick glance at Wikipedia reveals that this modality is giving, thus, response to main educative challenges all over the world, promoting higher education access in many countries. 

However, giving support to large number of students is a great challenge that calls for strong and extremely well organized student support programs, at an institutional level, as well as innovative and creative proposals to give efficient answers to main students’ s needs in this type of mega universities.

In this webinar, distance education universities with a long experience in the field and a large number of students, will present some of their innovative solutions at giving support to big numbers in blended and online learning environments, such as the uses of FAQ System, short video instructions and social media (ANADOLU University, one of the largest universities in the world with 1.900.000 distance education students), and advanced technological tools for online video-tutoring, automatic correction system for open questions, and control process of formal examinations (UNED, a mega-university with 250.000 students).

By Ángeles Sánchez-Elvira Paniagua. Student Support Chair. Coordinator. UNED

ANADOLU University (Turkey)

Mehmet Firat & Ayşe Hepkul

UNED (Spain)

Tim Read& Covadonga Rodrigo & José Mª Luzón y Guillermo de Jorge Botana

16 November 2016

Student dropout in distance education - how many, who, when, why, what are the consequences and how do we overcome them?

Dropout in open and distance education tends to be higher - sometimes much higher - than in conventional education. This webinar will try to understand the issue by looking at the scale of the problem - how many students drop out and who drops out and when. It will examine the serious consequences - social and financial - for students, institutions and society as a whole. It will argue that overcoming the problem involves recognising that funding appropriate student support is not simply a cost but can have a positive financial return for institutions through increased retention. The webinar will suggest some ideas for discussion about what that appropriate support might comprise. By Ormond Simpson (former OUUK) 

29 September 2016

Complementary videos

Student Support Services in Open, Online and Blended-learning System

Student Support is at the heart of students'success in open, online and blended-learning systems.

In this video, a brief overview of the Student Support field of expertise (EMPOWER project, EADTU) is presented, introducing to the quality benchmarks for Student Support Services, as well (EADTU e-Xcellence Manual, third edition, 2016). By Ángeles Sánchez-Elvira Paniagua (UNED)

26 September 2016

Success and risk profiles of Distance Education Students:

Self-regulated Learning, Motivation and Emotion are relevant process involved, not only in academic success, but also in students' wellbeing.

This video summarizes some main results of UNED research on the psychosocial profiles of distance education students and their impact on students' performance and wellbeing. By Ángeles Sánchez-Elvira Paniagua (UNED)

22 February 2017

19 September 2016

Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia: The Technological Framework Underlying The UNED Examination System

Self-regulated Learning, Motivation and Emotion are relevant process involved, not only in academic success, but also in students' wellbeing.

This video summarizes some main results of UNED research on the psychosocial profiles of distance education students and their impact on students' performance and wellbeing. By Ángeles Sánchez-Elvira Paniagua (UNED)

15 November 2016

Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia: G Rubric- Automatic evaluation system open answers

Self-regulated Learning, Motivation and Emotion are relevant process involved, not only in academic success, but also in students' wellbeing.

This video summarizes some main results of UNED research on the psychosocial profiles of distance education students and their impact on students' performance and wellbeing. By Ángeles Sánchez-Elvira Paniagua (UNED)

15 November 2016

Anadolu University: FAQ System, Anadolu University

By Mehmet Firat, Anadolu University

17 November 2016

Anadolu University: Short videos, Anadolu University

By Mehmet Firat, Anadolu University

17 November 2016

17 November 2016

26 April 2017

EMPOWER is carried out with the support of the European Commission, Dg EAC, under the Erasmus+ Programme, however, sole responsibility for this website lies with the EADTU and the Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.