Student Advising for the Distance Learner


Jennifer Joslin, Ph.D; Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D; George Steele, Ph.D.

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The Online Learning Consortium and NACADA recently concluded the successful, three-part webinar series on topics related to student advising for the distance learner.  With the changing higher education landscape, this timely webinar series was designed to support student advising professionals at colleges and universities by sharing effective practices and recognized standards within the profession.

The overarching themes for all three webinars were the NACADA Core Values and the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education: Standards and Guidelines for Academic Advising.  Using these to guide your academic advising program can help create an effective environment at your college or university to support student success.


Best Practices Panel: Distance Learning Advising in a Technology-Driven Environment

Our webinar series kicked off on November 10, 2015, with a discussion by a panel of experts in the field of advising that shared their expertise in a number of key areas.  Kristen Betts, Drexel University, began this webinar by providing participants with the characteristics of online and blended learners in order to better understand the needs of these students.  This led into a discussion by Joe Chapman, ASU Online, on the success risk factors of an online student.

Wrapping up the webinar were three experts, who shared the approaches they have taken to advising the online learner at their institutions.  Joe Chapman, ASU Online, shared best practices from orientation to success coaching.  Lisa Haas, Colorado Technical University, talked about using technology tools in advising.  Finally, Samantha Ortiz, The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, discussed how to advise students in a 24/7 culture.


Using Technology in Advising

The second webinar in our series, held December 1, 2015, focused on the use of technology tools to promote effective advising.  Jennifer Joslin, NACADA, provided the overview on the Pillars of Academic Advising tied to the CAS standards.  This was followed by panelists Brad Blitz, Jennifer Lee, and Victoria Voelkel-Sanders from Georgia State University who discussed making data-driven intervention decisions to support student advising.  Tom Erney, Columbus State Community College, then shared the views of an administrator on academic advising. 


Gates Bryant, Tyton Partners, brought in his expertise to wrap up Webinar 2 with a discussion on technology in advising.  Information was shared regarding research conducted at Tyton Partners on strategies and tools to support student advising.


Advising as Teaching

Our third and final webinar in the series, Advising as Teaching, was held on January 7, 2016.  Keeping with our overarching theme, George Steel, Ohio State University, touched on the Pillars of Academic Advising as it related to our webinar topic before leading us into the discussion on supporting and transitioning online learners presented by Robert Kitchen, Fanshawe College.  Panelists Cristina Ludden, Cheri Rossi, and Nancy Willow from State University of New York Delhi shared effective practices in using the Learning Management System (LMS) in Advising their student population.  Clay Schwenn, University of Washington, was able to further elaborate on using the LMS in the advising process by talking about using it to evaluate students in co-curricular activities. 

The final presenters for this webinar were Michele Jersak, Century Community College, and Paul Wasko, University of Alaska Anchorage, providing their insights into using the e-portfolio for academic and career planning.  The information they provided were great for participants and helped us to bring all of these concept together for our webinar participants.

The concepts covered by our panel of experts in this three-part webinar series are beneficial to anyone that advises students.  If you are interested in learning more, check out the OLC website to review the recordings and other information available for this webinar series.


About the Authors

Dr. Jennifer Joslin is a Past President of and current Associate Director for NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. She is a writer, speaker, and educator who has consulted at higher education institutions in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. She just recently edited, with Ms. Pat Folsom and Dr. Frank Yoder, The New Academic Advisor Guidebook: Mastering the Art of Academic Advising (2015). Dr. Joslin also edited Academic Advising Administration: Essential Knowledge and Skills for the 21st Century (2011) with Dr. Nancy Markee (University of Nevada, Reno). 

Prior to working at NACADA, Dr. Joslin was the Director of the Office of Academic Advising at the University of Oregon, and was the Senior Associate Director for Training and Development at The University of Iowa. A native Californian, she earned her PhD from The University of Iowa in 2002.

Dr. Joslin teaches graduate courses in the Kansas State University College of Education in the Department of Special Education, Counseling, and Student Affairs. She is a proud member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. Connect with her on Twitter (@jenniferejoslin) and online at


Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D. is the Director of Strategic Partnerships at the Online Learning Consortium. Dr. Mathes has nearly 20 years of experience in both public and private for-profit higher education where she has supported online learning initiatives since she taught her first online course in 1997. She has been instrumental in working with start-up online initiatives as well as leading growth in institutions with an existing online program. She holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she wrote her dissertation on “Predictors for Student Success in Online Education.” She also has earned a Master of Science degree in Business Education and a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications from Illinois State University.


George Steele, Ph.D. is a lecturer and consultant for the Ohio State University.  Here he teaches online courses for K-12 working on a graduate degree.  His past experience has included 12 years as the Executive Director/Director of e-Student Services of the Ohio Learning Network where he reported to the Chancellor for a statewide program that coordinated and promoted public and private institutions’ distance learning offerings in Ohio.  In addition, he worked with Dr. Virginia Gordon for 10 years as the Coordinator of the undecided and major-changing student at Ohio State

George has been an active member of NACADA for 30 years.  He has served in a variety of capacities including council member, regional chair, and special projects.  He has written more than 20 articles on advising undecided students, major-changers, and use of technology in academic advising


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