I am currently working on the eCPD programme and am supporting/facilitating 11 people around the country through predominantly distance support means (phone, email, Skype, Discussion forum etc)
Using an idea borrowed from Lilian Soon of xlearn is when someone has completed a task is to send them a chocolate muffin or similar as a reward – now because these things don’t post very well, we have to do this virtually – e.g. send them a picture of a muffin. This is very easy to do nowadays, you could go and buy a really nice muffin, photograph it and then eat it, or (if like me) you treat your body like a temple (yeah right!) then there are thousands of images on Flickr (like the one that I have used here).
When using Flickr, I always do an advanced search and select to only choose ones that are released under ‘creative commons’ – this means that I can use the images within copyright law. I can then send the image to a blog (e.g. here) – and then by going into the edit mode within my blog, I can find and copy the html code that Flickr has put there and then paste this into something like a discussion thread with a VLE.
Although this may seem a lot of effort for some people, when you are supporting people (staff or learners) via online techniques, these little techniques can make a huge difference and overcome the isolating nature that you often find in this area of work.