Dynamite Tips to Change DFWs into Successful Learners (TxDLA 2014)


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Why do online courses designed by the best, well-seasoned educators experience so many student drops, failures and withdrawals (DFWs)? Learn simplel proven techniques to prevent the disconnects, help guarantee student enjoyment, motivation, and success.

Presentation at 2014 TxDLA

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Dynamite Tips to Change DFWs into Successful Learners (TxDLA 2014)

  1. 1. Dynamite Tips: Changing your DFWs into Successful Learners Raymond Rose Alese Smith Rose & Smith Associates University of North Texas
  2. 2. Tell us who you are. •K-12 •Community College •4-yr College/University •Course Designer/Instructor •Instructor/Facilitator •Program Manager 1
  3. 3. Tell us about your program or course. •Is your course/program fully or partly online? •How old is your course/program? •Do you know your course/program’s DFW rate? •Has the DFW rate changed over time? 2
  4. 4. Tell us why you’re here. 3
  5. 5. What causes students to DFW? Mistaken expectations • Easier • More in-depth • Friendlier • Self-paced • Scheduled • Less confusing • Wrong course Unexpected reactions • Navigation confusion • Assignment confusion • Tech problems • Feeling behind • Slow or no responses • Feeling alone and unnoticed 4
  6. 6. What helps students be successful? 5 •Feeling a sense of community where classmates know each other and communicate. •Feeling a part of that community. •Feeling their input is valuable and sought after by classmates. •Feeling valued and noticed by the instructor.
  7. 7. What are the ways to change DFWs into successful learners? 6
  8. 8. As you design the course... Start students with a Start Here section, and detail, detail, detail. AKA: a simple syllabus isn’t enough. 7
  9. 9. Detail the Start Here section. •How to start •Welcome •Tech info •Course design •And the syllabus •Activities checklist •Scheduled asynchronous •Guidelines for success •Communication Plan •And your TONE 8
  10. 10. Design the course simply, fully. 9 > > Start Here! < < Weekly lessons Announcements Discussions Messages Calendar Grades and feedback Resources Assignments
  11. 11. A sample week: Everything students require for the week. Weekly lessons Week 2 Overview This week’s Readings Discussion on readings Resources Quest Learning Blog Wiki group project Let’s talk about this week 10
  12. 12. What goes into the weeks. Week 1 Overview and objectives of the week Discussion: Get acquainted with classmates, part 1 Explore the discussion forums Blog: Overview and expectations Team project 1 of 6: Meet your teammates, first project Discussion: Let's talk about this week Week 2 Overview and objectives of the week Get acquainted, part 2 This week's readings, resources Team project 2 of 6: Define roles, assignments, timeline Blog: Web search, review choices Discussion: Appraisals and critiques Freestyle assignment Weekly Self-assessment Discussion: Let's talk about this week 11
  13. 13. Design activities to be interesting and attainable. Students learn how to improve their performance: • Self-assessments • Peer-assessments • Instructor frequent feedback • Feedback from teammates, colleagues Students earn grades on each segment of a multi- part activity. Students to choose how they demonstrate learning: • Composition • Slideshow • Audio or video presentation • Website Students see how to GET points and less on how to LOSE them. 12
  14. 14. Assure technical competence: Introduce and practice tech steps in ungraded activities. •Don’t assume anyone knows how to use the technology. •Include links to detailed instruction and tutorials within assignments. •Refer students to a Tech Questions thread or the school helpdesk. 13
  15. 15. The course is final and ready. Have the course formally reviewed against your institution’s quality standards. At a minimum, have a colleague review it for reactions. 14
  16. 16. Before the course begins... Email a pre-course Learning Agreement to each student as they register. • Introduce yourself • Provide the syllabus and more • Info on YOUR responsibilities to each student • What you expect of them, what it takes to succeed • Acknowledgement they’ve read/agree to abide by the LEARNING AGREEMENT • Ask for questions now before starting • What does it tell you about students who don’t respond? What actions can you take? 15
  17. 17. Before the course begins... Send students to the course to test their login and test access to the course. •Display the syllabus and Start Here before the course starts. •If not, email it to them in the Learning Agreement. •Use it to: • Test technical abilities • Give a head-start on course layout • Give students practice going to the course site 16
  18. 18. As the course begins... After students read the Start Here section and syllabus, consider quizzing on it. Why not identify those who might have skipped it, especially those who registered late? 17
  19. 19. Make the community building a first priority. • Make the very first assignment an ice- breaker discussion. • Host it in a Student Lounge and assign continued conversations. • Ice breakers don’t have to have anything to do with the subject matter. • Make it fun! • Considering posting your ice-breaker introduction to model. • Community-building is a process, not an event. 18 Once the course is underway...
  20. 20. Provide multiple communication channels. •Use Announcements for breaking news and reminders. •Keep all communications within the course and out of email. •Consider hosting live video events. •Exploit the discussion forums. 19
  21. 21. Sample Discussion Forums Ongoing topics Ask Assignment Clarification questions here Share Interesting Resources here Student Lounge Week 1 Discussions Get Acquainted, part 1 Define your vision Let's Talk About this Week Week 2 Discussions Get Acquainted, part 2 Interview a Leader Web Search Discoveries, Critiques Peer Review Let's Talk About this Week 20
  22. 22. Sample Discussion forums to consider. Course-long topics Ask Assignment- Clarification questions Share Worthwhile Resources here Student Lounge Week 1 Discussions Get Acquainted, part 1 Discuss the Syllabus Let's Talk about the Week Week 2 Discussions Get Acquainted, part 2 Let's Talk about the Week 21
  23. 23. Sample Discussion forums to consider. Weekly discussions • Give each week’s topic its own separate forum • Provide at least one weekly discussion topic every week • Consider: Provide a weekly reflection forum for how it’s going Ongoing discussions • Assignment clarification questions: • Provide a forum where all students post questions and answers for all to see • Answer all assignment questions only once • Student orientation to provide a social area to talk 22
  24. 24. Provide frequent feedback on students’ performance, especially in the early weeks. Feedback can communicate to a student what they’re doing well, and provide a map to doing better. 23
  25. 25. Consider audio feedback. Comparing WRITTEN feedback to AUDIO feedback: Research found overwhelming preference by both students and instructors. Students: Understood more, incorporated it into next work, felt more involved and motivated. Instructors: Quicker, increased amount of feedback, easier to express, less need to be perfect. 24
  26. 26. Focus on late arrivals to help them catch up with their classmates. 25 •Starting late can be extremely difficult to overcome. •Show them special attention and interest. •Help them prioritize essential activities. •Do a live video chat. •Several? Introduce in an announcement and asking others to meet. •Assign a mentor
  27. 27. Successful learners need to... Be comfortable with the course’s physical layout and how to use its areas. Be aware of what’s expected of them. Feel they’re valued contributors to the community. Feel a connection with the instructor. Be aware of how well they’re performing. 26
  28. 28. Let’s talk about your questions, observations, experiences, successes. 27
  29. 29. Alese Smith alese.smith@unt.edu Rose and Smith Associates Raymond Rose ray@rose-smith.com http://rmrose.blogspot.com 28