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Ormond Simpson

October 2012
Principal interests in distance education

  1. Student support by various media including internet and phone

  2. Student success and retention, especially
    - institutional attitudes and structures for retention,
    - the financial costs and benefits of retention activities for students institutions and
    society as a whole
    - the psychological support of student success and enhancing learner motivation

  3. Staff development in distance learning, particularly of tutors and advisers


Books - three books on student support and retention (which have sold more than 4000 copies and one of which has been translated into Chinese). A third edition of the second book will be out in January 2013 with Routledge, New York

Book chapters - eleven book chapters, one in press.

Articles - more than 30 articles on the above topics in various refereed journals.

Training materials - a range of training materials for staff development, including texts, video and audio.
Consultancies and workshops

Consultant, given presentations and run workshops on various aspects of distance learning in the West Indies, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Korea, The Gambia, China, Colombia, Ghana, South Africa, Brazil, the US and the UK. Over 30 presentations given in the last five years on distance learning at various institutions in the UK and elsewhere.

Personal history

Currently working as a consultant in distance learning retention and support

Visiting Fellow, Centre for Distance Education, University of London International Programmes

Previously Visiting Professor, Open Polytechnic of New Zealand

Previously Senior Lecturer in Institutional Research and Assistant Director, Student Support at the UK Open University (UKOU)

Prior to those appointments Lecturer in various universities in Africa, the US and the UK.

Personal details
Name: Ormond Paul Simpson, BSc. Hons Dunelm, F. Cert Ed., ILTM

Sex: Male

Email: Website
Higher Education


BSc Honours in Theoretical Physics, University of Durham


HE/FE Teacher's Certificate, University of London Institute of Education


- Full time

2008 - 2009

Visiting Professor, Open Polytechnic of New Zealand

2004 -2008

Senior Lecturer in Institutional Research

Open University Institute of Educational Technology,

2002 – 2004

Assistant Director - Student Services, UKOU in the East of England

1998 – 2002

Director, OU Centre for Educational Guidance and Student Support [0.5 post]

2000 – 2002

Assistant Director Student Progress, UKOU in the East of England [0.5post]

1977 - 2000

Senior Counsellor, UKOU East Anglia Region [from 1998-2000, 0.5 post]

1968 – 1977

Lecturer, Cranfield University, UK

1971 – 1972

Instructor, Hartford State Technical College, USA

1966 – 1968

Lecturer, University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana

- Part time

2009 - on

Visiting Fellow, University of London International Programme

2006 - on

Associate Lecturer UKOU ‘Starting with Maths’ Openings course

2005 - 2006

Tutor, University of London MA in Open Distance and Flexible Learning

2003 - 2005

Associate Lecturer, UKOU ‘Technology of Music’ course

1974 – 1998

Associate Lecturer, UKOU Science Foundation course

1. Work history and interests
Current activities.

I am principally a researcher into the student experience of distance education. My particular areas of interest are:

(i) Student retention

  • the role of proactive interventions and the development of learning motivation

  • institutional attitudes to retention

  • course choice and retention

  • financial aspects of retention for students, institutions and governments

(ii) Student support and especially

  • online support

  • informal support (from families, friends, employers and peer and mentoring support)

(iii) Widening Participation

- access and e-learning

- post-access retention of vulnerable students

(iv) Staff Development and training

- helping distance learning staff develop appropriate teaching and support skills

- the production of distance staff development materials
Much of this work is summarised in my three books (see p.7) which have now sold more than 4800 copies in total. The ‘Supporting Students’ book was recently published in China.
Previous roles.

1. From 2002 – 08: Senior Lecturer in Institutional Research UK Open University with a similar remit to the above.

2. From 1998 – 2002: Assistant Director (Student Services) - managing 6 Student Service Managers, and 12 Student Service Assistants, covering study support, enrolment and advisory services as well as the management of specialist activities such as complaints, exceptions and appeals, prison students, and advisory services and chairing many working groups.
3. From 1992 – 1998: Director of the Centre for Educational Guidance and Student Support, responsible for the development of materials and activities to support both tutors and students, as well as undertaking research and innovation in student support.
4. From 1977 – 1992: Senior Counsellor with the OU. This involved the management of around 80 part-time OU tutors and the overall supervision of around 4000 OU students.

5. From 1966 – 1977: Lecturer in universities in Africa, America and the UK

2. External academic activities
(a) Consultancies, teaching and writing

September 2012

Beijing Open University

Interview with Chinese Journal of Open Education Research 18, 5

June - Dec 2011

UK Open University

Consultant on the Gates Foundation funded project ‘Bridge to Success’

February 2011 on

University of London International Programme

Consultant on the LLB email-based retention project

Oct 2009 on

Massey University, New Zealand

Consultant to the Student Retention Programme

Sept 2009 on

University of London External Degree programme

Consultant on the ‘Minimum Expectations Project’

Oct – Nov


University of Maryland, USA

Tutor on online course in the Economics of Distance Learning

Sept 2008

Author for UK Open University

‘Teaching and Learning with the Open University’ – handbook for Associate Lecturers

Sept-Dec 2007

University of London Centre for Distance Education

Tutor on the Online Research Skills course.

Nov 2007

National Institute of Adult and Continuing Education

Developing e-learning in prisons project

April 2007

Papua New Guinea for the British High Commission

Workshops on student support in distance education

April 2007

The Gambia for DfID

Developing distance materials for teacher training

Sept 2007

Korean National Open University

Consultant on retention

Oct 2006

Korean National Open University

Visiting Scholar for one month


Liverpool Hope University

External assessor for the MA in Cultures and Identities


National Institute of Adult and Continuing Education

Consultant on prison education


Open Polytechnic of New Zealand

Consultant on global trends in distance education.


China Central Radio and Television University

Staff conference in Chengdu, China – paper on student support presented.


University of West Indies

Consultant on Student Support Services, Barbados


International Extension College

Consultancies with distance education staff from Bangladesh, Romania, S.America, Ghana, Pakistan, India and elsewhere.

(b) Other external academic activities


Deakin University Australia

External PhD examiner


Nottingham Trent University

External DBA examiner


Studies in Learning Evaluation Innovation and Development

Member of the Editorial Board (Australia)


China Central Radio and Television University

Supervision of a visiting scholar.

2004 on

Article referee for journals:

  1. Studies in Higher Education

  2. Open Learning

  3. Teaching and Teacher Education (Aus)

  4. Studies in Learning Evaluation Innovation and Development (Aus)

  5. Int. J. of Higher Education and Educational Planning

  6. J. Computer Assisted Learning

  7. Korean Journal of Lifelong Learning

  8. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (Canada)


Institute of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education

Awarded membership


Association of European Correspondence Schools

Author and tutor

(c) External keynote presentations

(more than 50 external presentations given in the last 25 years – this list is for the last eight years only)

September 2012

Brazilian Association for Distance Education (ABED)

Keynote address at the ABED Annual Conference, Sao Luis, Brazil

February 2012

University of South Africa

Science Foundation Tutors Conference

November 2011

Anne Arundell College USA

‘Distance education – are we failing our students?’

September 2011

University of South Africa

A series of ten presentations on student retention in distance education

September 2011

Brazilian Association for Distance Education (ABED)

Keynote address at the ABED Annual Conference, Manaus, Brazil

January 2011

Open University UK

‘22% - could we do better?’

November 2010

University of Ghana, Legon Ghana

Supporting Students in distance education in Ghana

May – June 2010

London University Centre for Distance Education

Four presentations on aspects of student retention in distance education

Sept 2009

Bogotá, Colombia

Guest speaker at the International Forum on Student Retention

July 2009

Open University UK

Two presentations on retention and e-learning

July 2009

Warwick University 2+2 programme

‘A new theory of student support’

April 2009

Massey University NZ

Three presentations on retention and support

Mar 09

University of Otago, NZ

‘Costs and benefits in Distance Learning’

Nov 08

Laidlaw College, Auckland, NZ

‘Dropout – why worry?’

Sept 08 – May 09

Open Polytechnic of New Zealand

A series of presentations on aspects of student support and retention

Oct 08

University of Middlesex - presentation over the Internet

‘Tapeworm or technological breakthrough – can e-learning contribute to student retention in higher education?’

Sept 08

College of Estate Management, University of Reading

'Weeding them out?'

May 2008

University of Ulster

‘Student success – we need a new theory of leaner support’

Jan 2008

University Association for Lifelong Learning, Birkbeck

‘A new theory of learner support’

Nov 2007

Brighton University

‘Cost Benefits of Retention’

Oct 2007

London University

Three seminars on student support

July 2007

London University Centre for Distance Education

‘Research into practice’

June 2007

Cranfield University

‘Supporting Students for Success in Distance Education’

Jan 2007

Glasgow University

‘Student retention – why should we care and what can we do?’

July 2006

Penn State University USA – video presentation

‘E-learning – the UK experience’

July 2006

Distance Education Association of New Zealand

‘E-learning – what does research tell us?’

June 2006

RAF Personal Learning Advisors Conference, Coventry.

‘Support in Lifelong Learning’

June 2006

NIACE conference ‘Future Learning’ Nottingham

‘E-learning – what does research tell us?’

June 2006

Middlesex University Business School

‘The Student Retention Business’

Dec 2005

National Extension College

‘Retention issues in the OU’

Nov 2005

UK Open and Distance Learning Quality Council

‘Financial issues in student retention’

Nov 2005

Scottish Part Time Forum

‘A formula for retention?’

Oct 2005

Universities’ Association for Lifelong Learning

‘Student Support at a Distance’

July 2004

CCRTVU staff at the University of East London - keynote

‘Student support’

June 2004

‘Facing the future – e-learning for adults’ NIACE, Leicester

‘Supporting open and distance learners’

March 2004

Manchester Metropolitan University staff

‘Are we failing our students?’

September 2003

London University External Degree programme staff

‘Retention in pt HE’

October 2003

East of England Telematics Group

‘New modes of learning’

October 2003

ILTHE seminar Belfast

‘Research and Teaching’

3. Publications

(a) Books – solely authored

Tbp 2013

Supporting students for success in online and distance education’. Commissioned by Routledge, New York


Student Retention in Online, Open and Distance Learning’ RoutledgeFalmer, 168pp, ISBN 0 7494 3999 8.


Supporting students in Online, Open and Distance Learning’ 2nd edition RoutledgeFalmer, 168pp, ISBN 0 7494 3999 8.


Supporting Students in Open and Distance Learning’ Kogan Page, 186pp, ISBN 0 7494 3082 6.

(b) Book chapters

Tbp 2012

Student dropout – the elephant in the room of distance education’ (with Woodley) chapter in “Online Distance Education - Toward a Research Agenda" published by Athabasca University Press


‘Sustainability in distance education’ (with Bourke). For the Journal of the Distance Education Association of New Zealand


‘Technology supported assessment for retention’ chapter in ‘Captivation: Student Engagement and Development through Assessment’ iPED Coventry University, pub. Routledge


‘Issues in E-learning Marketing’ chapter in ‘Marketing online programmes: Frameworks for Promotion and Communication’. Ed. Demiray and Sharma, Anadolu University and Indira Gandhi National Open University, pub. IGI Global ISBN 978-1-60960-074-7


‘E-Learning and the Future of Distance Education’ and ‘Retention and Course Choice in Distance Learning’ chapters in ‘Distance and E-learning in Transition – Learning innovation, technology and social challenges’. Ed, Bernath, Szucs, Tait and Vidal; pub. Wiley and ISTE, ISBN 978-1-84821-132-2


‘Open To People – Open With People: Ethical Issues In Open Learning’ chapter in ‘Ethical Practices and Implications in Distance Learning’ Ed. Demiray and Sharma, Anadolu University and Indira Gandhi National Open University, pub IGI Global ISBN 978-1-59904-867-3 .


‘Cost benefits of Student Retention policies and Practices’, chapter in ‘Economics of Distance and Online learning’ ed. Bramble and Panda. Pub. Routledge

ISBN 978-0-415-96389-3


‘Rescuing the Personal Tutor’, chapter in ‘Perspectives on Personal Tutoring in Mass Higher Education’ ed. Thomas and Hixenbaugh. Pub Trentham Books ISBN-10:1-85856-385-2


‘Social exclusion and online learning’ - chapter in ‘Global Perspectives on E-learning – rhetoric and reality’ ed. Carr-Chelman pub. Sage; pp89-100; ISBN 14129 0489 7


‘Doing it Hard’- chapter in ‘Supporting Student Learning: case studies, experience and practice from higher education’ ed. Crosling and Webb, pub. Kogan Page; pp34-40; ISBN 0 7494 3535 6.


'Counselling by Correspondence’ - chapter in 'Key Issues in Open Learning' ed. Tait, pub Longman; pp 133-139; ISBN 0 585 21061 5.

(c) Articles in refereed journals - published


(with Boyle, Kwon and Ross) 'Student-student mentoring for retention and engagement in distance education', Open Learning 25 (2)


‘Motivating Learners in Open and Distance Learning: do we need a new Theory of Learner Support?’ Open Learning 23 (3)


(with Gibbs and Regan) 'Improving Student Retention through Evidence Based Proactive Systems at the Open University (UK)' Journal of College Student Retention 8 (3) (US)


(with Johnston) 'Retentioneering higher education in the UK: attitudinal barriers to addressing student retention in universities' Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning 8 (3)


‘Predicting Student Success’ Open Learning 21(2) pp125-138


‘This door is alarmed’ Journal of Access, Policy and Practice 3 (2)


‘Web-based learning; are we becoming obsessed?’ Distance Learning 26 (1) pp 153-157 ISSN 0158-7919


‘The costs and benefits of student retention for students, institutions and governments’. Studies in Learning Evaluation Innovation and Development (Australia) 2 (3) pp34-43


‘The impact on retention of interventions to support distance students’: Open Learning, 19 (1) pp79-95 ISSN 0268-0513


‘Student Retention and the course choice process – the UK Open University experience’ Journal of Access Policy and Practice 2 (1) pp44-58, ISSN 1740-1348


(with Blanchfield, L. and Patrick, I.) ‘Computer conferencing for guidance and support’: British Journal of Educational Technology 31 pp295-306, ISSN 0007-1013, (individual contribution 70%)


(with Asbee, S. and Woodall, S.) ‘Student-student mentoring in distance education’: Journal of Access and Credit Studies, 2 (2) pp220-232, ISSN 1462-0367 (individual contribution 50%)


‘Counselling by correspondence in distance education’: Open Learning 3 (3) ISSN 0268-0513, pp. 43-45


(with Stevens, V.) 'Promoting Student Progress by monitoring assignment submission': Open Learning 3 (8) pp56-58, (individual contribution 40%)


(with Asbee, S.) 'Partners Families and Friends': Open Learning 13 (3) pp56-59, ISSN 0268-0513 (individual contribution 60%)


‘Counselling and Customer Care – Distance Education in the year 2000’ Epistolodidaktika 2


'Quality in Distance Learning Support' Open Learning 8 (2) pp61-63, ISSN 0268-0513


'Specifying support services in the OU – the so-called ‘Student Charter’': Open Learning 7 (2), pp57-59, ISSN 0268-0513


'Student needs in Distance Education' Epistolodidaktika 1


(with Gaskell, A and Gibbons, S.) 'Taking Off and Bailing Out': Open Learning 5 (2) pp49-54, ISSN 0268-0513, (individual contribution 75%)


(with Adams, C. and Rand, V.) 'But what's it really like? - the Taster Pack Idea': Open Learning 4 (3) pp42-43, ISSN 0268-0513, (individual contribution 60%)


'Adviceline – to alter your life': pp57-58 Open Learning 2 (1) pp57-58 ISSN 0268-0513


(with Brightwell, M.), 'Try it - you'll like it': Teaching At A Distance 24 pp-85, (individual contribution 80%)


(with Gibbons, S.) 'Let the computer take the strain': Teaching At A Distance 22 pp59-63, (individual contribution 70%)


(with Kelly, P. and Millard, J.) 'Student Progress and Drop Out': Teaching At A Distance: 22 pp69-71 (individual contribution 40%)


(with Gaskell, A.) 'Slow Moving Students': Teaching At A Distance 22 pp64-69, individual contribution 70%)


'Learning to Listen 2': Teaching At A Distance 13 pp52-58


‘Post foundation Counselling’: Teaching At A Distance 9 pp60-67


'Learning to Listen 1': Teaching At A Distance 10 pp43-46


'A case for Courser Courses': Teaching At A Distance 6 pp130-132

(d) Conference contributions


Research in Distance Education Conference


‘You be the judge - Ethical issues in Distance Education’


University of London Centre for Distance Education Conference

‘Student Dropout - the elephant in the room of distance education’


Cambridge International Distance Education Conference

‘A box of coloured chalk’


UNESCO, Korea ‘International Policy dialogue: Challenges in Implementing Lifelong Learning for Adults’

‘Learner Support in the UK Open University’


University Association for Lifelong Learning ‘Alternative Futures: Challenging Lifelong Learning’ Warwick

‘Financial Futures in Higher Education’


University of Stirling ‘The First Year Experience’

‘Using strengths to support first year retention’


Bath Spa University ‘Student Retention, Progression and Social Inclusion’

‘Following the Money in Student Retention’


Changing Landscapes Conference,

University of Swansea

‘This door is alarmed – 35 years of widening participation in the OU’


Personal tutoring in Higher Education

HEA/Univ. of Westminster, London

‘Rescuing the personal tutor in the OU’


Accomplishing Complex Change in Higher Education

HEA/De Montfort Univ. Leicester

‘Retentioneering higher education’


European Distance and E-learning Network (EDEN) Annual Conference ‘Lifelong E-learning’ Helsinki

‘E-learning and the future of Distance Education in the markets of the 21st century’


11th Cambridge International Conference on ODL: ‘Reflective Practice in Open and Distance Learning: how do we improve?’

‘Reflection or Deflection – what’s the evidence that we learn from evidence?’


European Distance Education Network

Oldenburg, Germany

‘Student Retention and pathway decisions in distance learning’


International Retention conference

University of Teesside

Two papers given:

(i) ‘Institutional attitudes to


(ii) ‘The finances of retention’


Assessment 2004

Bergen, Norway

‘Assessment and Retention in the UKOU’


Madingley Conference on student retention

‘Proactive contact in retention’


The Future of Distance Education


‘Will we keep failing our students?’


US National Student Retention Conference,

San Diego

‘An international perspective on retention’


International Student Retention Conference


‘Mature Student Retention – the UKOU experience’


Holistic Student Support, UCL Preston

‘Support from Family and Friends’


ICDE/OU International Conference, Cambridge

[with Gaskell]

‘Tutors Supporting Students’


EDEN ‘Research and Innovation in Open and Distance Learning’, Prague [with Gaskell]

‘What do students expect from their tutors?’


Laurentian University, Canada

'The Student Charter'


ICDE/OU International Conference, Cambridge

'Correspondence Counselling'


ICDE/OU International Conference, Cambridge

'Training counsellors at a distance'

(e) Other published work

(i) Distance education courses written


Handbook for OU Associate Lecturers

For the UK Open University


Module on ‘Learner Support’

For the MA in Distance Education, University of London Institute of Education and the International Extension College


‘Course for Counsellors’

For Indira Gandhi National Open University


‘Counselling in Distance Education’

For the Diploma in Distance Education - European Home Studies Council

(ii) Short articles published

Numerous short articles and letters in various places. This list is for the last ten years only:


‘Self Discipline’ Connections, Open Polytechnic of New Zealand


‘Managing Your Procrastination’ Connections, Open Polytechnic of New Zealand


‘Focused on distance’ New Zealand Educational Review


‘Strike it rich…’ Times Higher Education Supplement


Foreword for book ‘Studying at a Distance’ Talbot, Open University Press


‘Coping mechanisms’; Sesame


‘Evidence and e-learning’; Basic Skills Bulletin


‘Behind? You need a spud’; Sesame


‘The AL Contract’ Snowball


‘Make Lists’; Sesame


‘Bach and bytes’; Sesame


‘What you can expect’; Sesame


‘A Formula for success’; Sesame


‘The best value there is’; Sesame


‘Tutors’ Views needed’; Snowball


‘Are you a lucky student?’; Sesame


‘Tactics in the Exam Wars’; Sesame


‘The Global University’ (Book review); J. Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning


‘The Learner’s Experience of E-learning’; Adult Learning and Skills, NIACE


‘Closer to success than you think’; Sesame


‘Don’s Diary’ Times Higher Education Supplement


‘Student retention – keeping the punters in’; ODLQC Newsletter


‘Getting the most out of tutorials’; Sesame


‘Researchers routed’ (letter) Times Higher Education Supplement



‘A funnel in your letterbox’; Sesame

‘Ron’s big moment’, Sesame


‘Lending a hand’; EL Gazette 267


‘The Will to Continue’; Sesame


‘Informing choice’ (letter) Guardian Education supplement


‘The Credit Game’; Sesame


‘Help yourself to self-help’; Sesame


‘Moving on from a fail mark’; Sesame

Ormond Simpson

18 October 2012

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