Online Support for Online Graduate Students:
Fostering Student Development through
Web-based Discussion and Support

Dr. Martha Cleveland-Innes, [],
Sarah Gauvreau, [],
Athabasca University, Canada


While participation in online graduate study is on the rise, questions remain about the outcomes of online graduate school (Rourke & Kanuka, 2007). This research documents student reaction to a web-based support site for online graduate research students, entitled the Research Exploration and Discussion Site (READS). This site was designed to support research skill and knowledge development, and thus role identity formation as a scholar and researcher, for graduate students in an online distance education Master's degree program. Student interest in, and visitation to, the site was very high, but participation in site activities quite limited. Participation patterns and interviews with students posting to the site suggest that, while interests vary widely, students are looking for general support around usual student issues: relationships with faculty, career choices, access to financial and other student supports, academic resources and library information.

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e-learning, distance learning, distance education, online learning, higher education, DE, blended learning, MOOCs, ICT, information and communication technology, collaborative learning, internet, interaction, learning management system, LMS,

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