Supporting students via online communication adds a layer of potential dysfunction that must be analyzed and prepared for as we set up online courses. It is easy for a student to lose sight of the goal, lose track of time, and lose the motivation to succeed in an online course. True partnerships must be incorporated into the equation if the chance for success is going to be optimized and those partnerships can be formally designed as in assigned group structure or they can be informally created which often happens throughout the semester. Ideally, I think a combination of the two would be optimal. The challenge online students face is the accountability piece which suggests that it is not difficult to let ourselves down, but it is much more difficult to let others down. If we are accountable to someone other than ourselves, we are much more likely to make the right decision to persevere when we might rather not.
I like Lee’s method of personal contact in pursuit of problem solving. If she is not hearing form a student or the work is not coming in, she will pursue that student in attempt to problem-solve the situation and help them to get back on track again. This is a highly effective, proactive strategy to become a partner with students that usurps the traditional teacher / student relationship.