This book of case studies is the outcome of a workshop organised by the Distance Education Association of South Africa (Deasa) in 1995 for learner support staff of its member organisations. These case studies should contribute to the literature on learner support services, provide practitioners with examples of various types of tried and tested support services, and inform practitioners of some of the pitfalls to avoid in the introduction of new ideas for improving learner support services. Learner support services play an important role in reducing the difficulties experienced by learners in this mode of education: they help to reduce the isolation of learners, facilitate effective learning, reduce attrition rates and increase success rates. The case studies represent a wide spectrum and interesting examples of learner support services, grouped according to institutions and southern African countries which participate in Deasa.
Some of the central issues of learner support services covered in the case studies include the underlying philosophy governing an organisation's provision of these services; access; centralisation and/or decentralisation; role and responsibilities of learners; the nature and role of technology; gender; collaboration; and staff development. The case studies cover these issues in varying degrees of emphasis and detail.