“eTailored to Fit”: The Development of a Virtual Self-Access Learning Centre (VSALC) to Support Learners at a Jamaican University
Keywords:virtual self-access learning centre, student support, Jamaican university
In 1999, Hills Park University (HPU) introduced as a student support system, its Self-Access Learning Centre (SALC), a physical space with language resources, complementing traditional face-to-face language classes. However, the ubiquity of digital technologies in education, the resultant shift in student profiles, students’ continued language challenges, among other factors, have motivated the design, development, and implementation of a virtual self-access learning centre (VSALC), an online self-directed tool aimed at further assisting HPU students in improving their communicative competence. Using a learner profile and accompanying personas that resulted from a cross-sectional survey of undergraduate students, as well as best practices in online and language education, this paper details the key features of the VSALC. We propose two key support systems for an efficient centre: (1) learning support – which incorporates avatars, chunked interactive English Language (EL) content targeting Creole-influenced students, and self-assessment and tracking tools, and (2) technical support – inclusive of FAQs, an online readiness toolkit, and a live help-desk.