Assistance and Guidance Needed for Academic Success
Academic support is crucial for students and staff in order to succeed in Connected Learning environments. There is compelling evidence demonstrating the importance of academic and student support services in assisting students in displacement and conflict settings to overcome significant academic gaps and environmental barriers. In many cases, these supports are similar to those offered within more traditional university settings; in other cases, there are specific needs for student support services related to Connected Learning environments and conflict settings.
Given the diversity of programme models for Connected Learning, there are also many different types and models for academic support. This can include support services that aim to deliver additional assistance prior to programme entry (for instance, delivering admissions preparation programmes to increase the number of female learners enroled), support during the programme (including services for protection, individualised learning tracks and support, provision of appropriate technologies, establishing mechanisms for peer mentorship, and the establishment of student feedback procedures and mechanisms for complaint), as well as services after the programme has ended – which may include employment and counseling services, the development of alumni networks, and the provision of pathways for continued learning.
These services offer the guidance needed to help students ‘learn how to learn’ – focusing, for instance, on career advice, psychosocial counseling, or employment outcomes. Some programmes offer scaffolded support to students outside of their main academic programmes to help improve access and equity in enrolment. Meanwhile, others may choose to focus on providing students services to help students access and pursue needed documentation for their enrolment.
Academic support services are particularly important for learners who have significant academic gaps or are disadvantaged due to unequal opportunities due to gender, ethnicity, disability, or other characteristics. Connected Learning programmes have found academic support is particularly crucial for female students as a way to provide additional support and to help students balance home responsibilities and childcare through individualised learning pathways.
Although academic support models differ greatly across Connected Learning programmes, one key goal of most programmes is to increase the number of contact points students have for academic and personal support in the programme. Connected Learning programmes are striving to provide students and staff with the assistance and guidance they need to be successful.