I’m attending an intensive workshop in Atlanta about student retention in online education. This is an important issue for me as Director of DL at CCC so its crucial that I stay on top of the curve with it . It doesn’t surprise me that the policy makers at the federal and state levels are way behind 10-15 years behind when it comes to distance learning and retention issues related to dl.
There are many factors to consider when looking at student retention in online classes.
Student and faculty engagement in the teaching/learning process are key variables that impact online student retention BUT not the only factors.
Online students are a very diverse group and may be an older more pragmatic student population who are also working and caring for families while they are pursuing online classes.
Early intervention is an important strategy for identifying students who may not succeed in online classes and in turn the programs they are enrolled in. More and more colleges across the country are implementing early alert programs.
There are no easy solutions or ways to address the online student retention issue. It’s a multifaceted and complex problem and takes a variety of initiatives that must be developed based on the specific needs of the students and the colleges they attend. There is no one size fits all solution to doing a better job retaining online students at our colleges and institutions across the country.
There are many barriers to student success and their ability to stay in a given online course and/or program.
There are also many questions to ask when exploring this issue.
One thing the data tells us is that retention is a campus wide concern and every department on a campus needs to be aware of their role in retention and be proactive about retaining students.
Day 2 & 3 Online Student Retention
How is retention defined?? Persistence vs. Graduation Faculty and Advisors are on front lines of retention.
Explain the rationale behind WHY you ask students to do things like use campus e-mail for example. Use language students can understand instead of college terms and jargon.
Student Services must conduct business as effectively in the online environment as they do face to face.
Students need assistance in filling out financial aid. Don’t assume students can navigate FAFSA forms by themselves.
Course sequencing is an issue to consider. Course type (rigor) is a factor and must also be considered in the advising process.
Students need to know exactly what to expect in their online classes and the support services that they have available to them. Building relationships with your students is key to retaining them.
Life issues such as finances, family issues, jobs, health, etc. impact retention.
Streamline the intake process for students. Students Support Services should be a “students centered” customer service model. Students are our customers and we should respect their time and that they have many more choices now and if we don’t service their educational needs effectively they will go elsewhere. Incorporate proven business practices.
Faculty engagement is so critical to the retention equation. Faculty need to be PROACTIVE in helping students with technology. Online faculty should not assume their students understand how to use the CMS. Faculty on the other hand need to know how to harness the technology in order to engage their students in the online environment. Professional development for faculty should be ongoing and address changes in technology like course upgrades.
Students who have failed or dropped courses in the past are more likely to drop again. These students should be placed an early alert.
Identify “stressors” for your student population. How can the college address and eliminate theses stressors?
Do what you say you are going to do – students also want to feel as though they have an advocate at the college they are attending.
Students who do NOT feel connected, do not feel academically prepared and struggle with technology are at risk for dropping out.
How do we “change the culture” at our institutions as far as online education and student retention goes. Technology has forced educators to rethink how they serve their students “clients” – things are much more competitive now when it comes to marketing for students. They have many more educational choices than they ever had before and can attend any college they want with a click of the mouse.
Create a Blackboard for all enrolled students to use as a social networking site – to sell books, get rides, look for apartments, sell things, socialize.
Think about setting up a tutoring consortium with schools in your region. Add Blackboard tech questions to Online Tutoring service.
Consider establishing a minimum number of announcments and posts to db a week for online faculty to insure they are engaged in their classes.
Online courses should be designed for the target audience
Have an online meeting and invite all faculty to submit their 3 favorite things about teaching online and 3 things they hate.
Consider implementing a weekly chat sessions with students using Dim Dim or Skype just to see how things are going and get to know your students a little better.
How do students achieve remote access? Think of creative ways to address student issues in the online environment. Skype, Elluminate, Wimba, Chat.
Check out Title III Director, Don Staub’s thoughts on this retention conference. Click Here!