Online student portal: Learners support system in an open and distance e-learning environment

Percia V Secreto and Rhodora L Pamulaklakin
University of the Philippines Open University
Los Baños, Laguna, the Philippines

Learner support in open, distance and online learning is defined as ‘all activities and elements in education that respond to a known learner or group of learners, and which are designed to assist in the cognitive, affective, and systemic realms of the learning process’ (Brindley et al. 2004). Teaching and tutoring, advising and counselling, and information and administration are the main institutional systems involved in learner support. The University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) functions under an open and distance e-learning (ODeL) framework of distance education, where most of its academic and non-academic processes are done through the Internet. This study will focus on UPOU’s online student portal (OSP), a student facility in the academic information management system (AIMS), which is the online gateway of UPOU’s academic operations. Through the OSP, students can register online, view their final grades, pay online, request documents, view important announcements, and access the online course sites, e-library resources and online order system for learning materials. The system was established in 2012 and, after being implemented for a year, additional features were added to the system to make it a one-stop-shop online system for students, faculties and other staff in the University. An online survey was conducted with continuing undergraduate and graduate students who were admitted prior to the implementation of the online student portal but had experienced the manual and online registration process, viewing of grades, requests for documents, and the like. This paper will describe the students’ assessment of the OSP’s functionality, efficiency, appearance, ease of use and security. It will also report on the students’ assessment of the OSP’s usefulness in addressing their specific needs.