Ten things online students tell us we can do to help to be more successful…
Come to campus : 98% in-state - 92% within driving distance
The average online learners at LCC are non-traditional students, women, enrolled part-time. They are place-bound students trying to fit their education into (around) their busy lives.
List of membership: Myself and Michelle Smith co-chair. Michelle is Behavioral Sciences faculty. Help desk, Learning / Testing Center, IT Faculty, Provosts office, Counseling, Career services, Instructional designer, Director Student Success & Completion, Library Faculty, Student Affairs office, English Faculty, Director Institutional Research.
We reviewed several initiatives at other institutions – both traditional and online schools. A couple of useful resources included a paper – Anita Crawley & Marie Fetzner (2013) Providing Service Innovations to Students Inside and Outside of the Online Classroom: Focusing on Student Success. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, Vol 17 No. 1, http://olj.onlinelearningconsortium.org/index.php/jaln/issue/view/34 WCET LAAP Project Beyond the Administrative Core: Creating Web-based Student Services for Online Learners, 2002, WCET, by Pat Shea and Sue Armitage http://www.wcet.wiche.edu/wcet/docs/beyond/overview.pdf
Took an inventory of services available to online students. Interesting note that with the exception of the help desk, students evaluated the face-to-face services slightly higher than the virtual equivalents.
When we asked this question, I was expecting students to offer suggestions on technology that the college could adopt that would help the distance learner better manage their online experience. It was a surprise when they focused instead primarily on issues of design and delivery.
In reverse order, I will share with you the top ten things students said would we could do to help them be more successful in the online course. # 10 Calendar – students need to keep track of what is due - when. We have known for years that the successful online is self-directed and possesses good time-management skills. Factors associated with student persistence in an online program include satisfaction with online learning, a sense of belonging to the learning community, motivation, peer, and family support, time management skills, and increased communication with the instructor. – Caroline Hart (2012) Factors associated with student persistence in an online program of study: A review of the literature. Journal of Interactive Online Learning Vol 11, No. 1.
#9 Online Testing: Students had a lot to say about testing in the online course. They were concerned about having to come into the testing center as this was in some cases impossible to do and they were asking that tests instead be given online. The title of this image is “Online Test = OPEN CHEAT” – CC-BY-NC-SA by Jered Stein on Flickr. Alternative assessment such as authentic and performance as well as formative assessment techniques can help with the concerns regarding online tests and cheating. Using artifacts and submitting through a portfolio may be a better means of providing assessment.
#8 Faculty Involvement “Online course interactivity, particularly between student and instructor, plays an important role in a student’s choice to persist in an online course.” - Rebecca Croxton (2014) The role of interactivity in student satisfaction and persistence in online learning, Merlot Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, Vol 10, No. 2
Creating an Effective Online Instructor Presence, April 2013, Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University. ‘Students expressed disappointment when they sensed a lack of “caring” from their teachers; in those cases, they reported feeling like they had to “teach themselves”.’ Personalized communication and OHT strategies: welcome calls, using names in correspondence, individualized feedback, Audio / Voice announcements, podcasts, (video) - Kristen Betts (2008) Online Human Touch (OHT) Instruction and Programming: A conceptual framework to increase student engagement and retention in online education (Part 1), Journal of Online Learning and Teaching (JOLT), Merlot
#7 Timely feedback increases student engagement. Games, quizzes (formative assessment) that are automatically scored with relevant information, discussion forums, etc. The instructor is interacting with the student by providing guidance and direction. The student receives feedback from their success in hitting the target. The closer she gets to and/or more frequently, hits the bulls eye, the higher the skill level and confidence…
#6 Instructor Availability - Virtually every time a student used the words “ I loved this course”, in the same breath they mentioned their instructor being available and accessible and responsive. I encourage instructors to post the best way to reach them, when and how often they check for messages, when a student can expect a response, etc.
Instructor availability / responsiveness was the single most important factor in student satisfaction. Google voice for texting, hangouts for office hours, etc. How and when can your students reach you? When can they expect a response? The findings suggest that students&apos; use of virtual office hours is not significantly different from their use of traditional office hours; however, participants in classes that offered virtual office hours reported higher levels of satisfaction with office hours than students in classes that offered only traditional face-to-face office hours. - Li, Lei; Pitts, Jennifer P. (2009) Does It Really Matter? Using Virtual Office Hours to Enhance Student-Faculty Interaction, Journal of Information Systems Education, v20 n2 p175-185
#5 Consistency - There is something to be said for consistency when designing and delivering online courses. Students appreciate not having to learn to navigate all over again each time they enroll in an online course. The use of templates and master courses is recommended, enabling all students to have a similar experience. When we say an application is “intuitive” what we mean is that it is familiar.
The number one reason why students felt that they were not successful in their online course was because “they got behind and couldn’t catch up”. What do Unsuccessful Online Students Want Us to Know? Fetzner, Marie Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, v17 n1 p13-27 Jan 2013 - #4 Reminders - Blackboard has a new Dashboard Tab that provides students the opportunity to see due dates, and other alerts from their various courses. Of course faculty have to use the assignments tool and early alerts (Retention Center) in order for students to get notified. Using the calendar and Evernote helps to remind me about important events…
Being organized - Reminders – we all know that successful online students possess a certain degree of self-discipline and time management skills. Those who do not possess these skills have a tough go of it. We can help them bet better organized by showing students how to subscribe to LMS alerts, announcements, etc. or by using tools such as remind101 to keep them on target. https://www.remind.com/ Cognitive load – decrease working memory load - http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/cognitive-load.html
#3 More Online Courses Students enroll in online courses, not because they love the technology, but because they need the flexibility. We need to create more quality online courses in an effort to help them meet their educational goals.
#2 Video - Students said they want more video in their online classes. Especially from their own instructors with short tutorials, faculty can add an element of personalization to their courses. It makes sense; as many students – especially community college students, use their smart phones to access course related materials. This doesn’t work well for many things, but iTunes, YouTube and Vimeo are all excellent media sources for handheld technologies. 83% of college students use a smartphone -http://www.harrisinteractive.com/vault/Approved%20Higher%20Ed%20Student%20Mobile.pdf
I know, right? The thing the students say is most important to their success in the online course is that which we have the least control over. That being said, there may be some things we can do to help mitigate problems as instructors and designers. Like me putting my slides out on Google Drive / Google Slides and also bringing a backup drive. If we must depend on technology then know that technology is not always dependable.
#1 Reliable Technology – students want the LMS to work and they want to be able to download and upload and stream without error. What can we do as instructional designers, and teachers to improve reliability from the individual standpoint? Have students submit early. Give them an orientation. Do not schedule tests during times when maintenance is scheduled or when the help desk is closed down for the night / weekend. Have a backup plan.
Reliable Technology – have a backup plan, Video – mobile content – think Khan Academy, More Online, Reminders – help with keeping up, consistency – intuitive design, instructor availability – increases student satisfaction, timely feedback - increases student engagement, faculty involvement (interactivity) – improves student outcomes, online testing increases flexibility, calendar –supports student time management and organization.
AQIP Action Project: Student Support
Services for Distance Learners
This project will assess the current
availability and accessibility of student
support services for online students in an
effort to identify gaps in services and
opportunities for expansion and
improvement of services.
How important are each of the
following services to you?
What can we do to help you be moreWhat can we do to help you be more
successful in the online course?successful in the online course?
…while all three types of interactivity are
important (student to instructor, student
to student and student to content), it is
critical that student - instructor
communication plays a central role in
course design for all learners.
–R. Croxton June 2014
I loved this course!
• "My instructor was awesome and was always there if you
had any questions."
• "...every course I have taken has been great and the
professors have all been attentive and responsive".
• "I really enjoyed my online course with [my] professor...
he was responsive to my individual questions and he
always replied in a timely compassionate manner.”
…not so much
"Although the instructor had organized the course well
on Blackboard, I could never get a prompt response...”
My… teacher on the other hand, is very distant and not
very helpful whenever I try and reach out to him.
More online courses, please!
“These courses are great I only wish that the
required in-class credit could be achieved
online instead. I am taking on-line for a reason
so having to be at the school for me is not an
option. Knowing I will have to make other
arrangements to finish my degree is a little
stressful. If I could be there I would but I
cannot so every course I have taken has been
great and the Profs. have all been attentive and
“The online class format was critical to my
completion of an Associate's Degree, and I
believe that it will continue to be necessary
as I continue my education through the
Lakeland/Kent Technical and Applied
Studies Partnership Program. Online
courses help individuals like me achieve
their goals and balance a busy work/family
life schedule. Please keep up the good
“I have enjoyed taking online courses. It fits
with my busy schedule / lifestyle and I can
do my school work at varying hours, where
if I were on campus, I would have to be
there certain days and hours.”
What could Lakeland do to help you be
more successful in online courses?
1. Reliable Technology
3. More Online
4. Reminders for
7. Timely Feedback
8. Faculty Involvement
9. Online Testing
This darn Macbook hasn’t been the same since I put a blue cover on it. I think it’s got Vist
CC-BY-NC-SA by Ed Yourdon on Flickr
303 / kind of indie CC-BY-NC-SA by modernowl on Flickr
Week 2 CC-BY-NC-SA by Cy-V on Flickr
Online Test = Open CHEAT! CC-BY-NC-SA by Mr_Stein on Flickr
Archery CC-BY-NC-SA by alex.ragone on Flickr
Sameness CC-BY-NC-SA by Beaulawrence on Flickr
iPhone CC-BY-NC-SA by alexbartok on Flickr
network patch panel CC-BY-NC-SA by brent_hensarling on Flickr
Chief Academic Technology Officer
Lakeland Community College
@itbill on twitter