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Laurie Freshwater, Division Director of our Allied Health Programs is presenting at the USDLA’s 4th International Forum for Women in E-Learning in Albuquerque. The title of her presentation is: Best Practices in Distance Learning.
The abstract for her presentation is:
Attrition in DL courses continues to be 10-20% higher than that of face-to-face courses. This session will provide attendees with resources and current/emerging technological tools available to increase retention in DL courses through the establishment of learning communities and the use of learner-centered instructional approaches.
Mary Walton (Division Director of Business Technologies), Patrick Keough (Director of Distance Learning) and myself are in Atlanta from Monday to Wednesday of this week, attending Academic Impressions’ workshop: Retaining Students in Online Education.” We are here to spend the next couple of days learning about and planning “…methods to track students, document progress, and put specific practices in place to ensure success,” (from the brochure).
We will be posting our learnings and impressions throughout the workshop. As a quick overview, here’s what’s on the agenda:
- Rethinking Retention: “…with accountability and graduation rates becoming major issues, it is even more important to address retention in online education.”
- Identifying Needs: There are usually specific reasons why [online] students enroll; being able to identify such reasons and respond appropriately can make or break a program.
- Developing Dashboards for Data Management: “How can you monitor progress and performance within a student’s lifecycle at your institution?”
- Measuring Retention Success: “Identify the significant characteristics of your student population and clarify retention goals at each step in the process from application to the end of the first term.”
- Critical Support Services: “…Institutions are challenged to integrate a wide range of student services to promote academic achievement and retention”
- Early Engagement Through Online First-Year Experiences: “… methods to engage and connect online students from the first point of contact.”
- The Role of Faculty and Academic Advisors in online Student Retention
- Delivering Support Services Online
Mark Parker and Kristen Betts led the first day’s sessions on:
- Rethinking Retention,
- Identifying Needs, and
- Dashboards (for data display).
My take-aways from these first three sessions:
- First and foremost, when it comes to retention in DL, we may not be perfect, but we are doing a lot of good things. We are providing boatloads of professional development to our faculty (thanks Title III), we are providing more and more services to our students in a cost-effective manner, we are assessing what we are doing, and we are providing training to our students to be better online learners, and we are coming to conferences such as this to gather information.
- For me, one of the more interesting topics of discussion on the day was around “managing expectations of our students.” The key point being – we can’t do it all, all the time. Therefore, we need to ensure that our students understand what to expect…when they’ll get a response. As one of our colleagues put it: “Is the service reliable…’Tell me what’s available and when it’s available.’”
- One way to think about providing services to more students would be to collaborate with other colleges. One suggestion was to form a consortium (as they have done in Mass.) to provide online tutoring. Pooling of resources is a good thing.
- How about this idea that was described by a colleague here. At their school, they use Emoticons that students send to the help-desk. An automated email is generated and sent to students that says, “do you want me to intervene?” (this engages the student, and doesn’t require the time and effort of staff, until necessary).
- I thought this was a good idea that one school has implemented: For all first-year courses that are taught online, phase in the use of technology. Don’t present all the bells and whistles from the outset. Let them become comfortable with the technology in phases.
- And, in the discussion on Dashboards, the notion that they are not just for the leadership is obvious, but often overlooked. As Kristen Betts pointed out: “optimize your dashboards for your division directors and program chairs”… what she referred to as “micro dashboards.”
4. Measuring Retention Success
This data-rich session was facilitated by Bill Bloemer – Research Associate at the Center for Online Learning Research and Services at the University of Illinois, Springfield (UIS) [The director of COLRS, Ray Schroeder has a blog about online learning]. Some of the interesting discussion points that came out of this session include:
- Students at UIS are hoarding courses…then they drop to fit their needs. “Excessive Churn” from hoarding at the beginning of the semester is wreaking havoc with gathering true enrollment data. There is also the issue of students not getting what they want because someone else has “gamed” the system and has grabbed a section that a student may truly need.
- Look at withdrawals by registration date. Is LIFO true? – one school at the conference claims that their look at their data says it isn’t. Instead, they that those students arrive focused and intent on completing a course.
- Is there a connection between age and withdrawals? Data that Bill showed at UIS suggests that there is.
- Is it possible, utilizing Academic Analytics (click for Bill’s recommended reading) to predict who will get an F/W in an online course? Bill led a lengthy discussion on a binary logistical regression model he had been using to look at those students who had earned an F. He worked backwards from this population to identify a common set of prediction variables. What he found was that, at best, he could predict that slightly over 12% of the students in a course that will W/Fail. Some of the “best” indicators to get him to this level of success are:
- the individual courses (those that have traditionally high rates of W/F; Focus on the outliers…track only the problem courses)
- the student’s prior GPA
- prior hours resulting in an F/W (“Failure breeds failure.” If you fail once, chances are, you’ll do it again.)
- student’s major
- From our Australian colleagues (UNE-Au), Rhonda and Greg: “We take the student perspective [vis a vis] course enrollment vs. student goal success. You may lose them in the short term, but let’s focus on keeping them for the long term.” The interventions and practices they have designed work to this end.
- Another insightful question worth posing (and whose answer is well worth promoting in order to get the attention of administration): What is the cost of increasing retention by 1%?
5. Critical Support Services
- Kathleen Polley, Director, Online RN-BS Program, University of Massachusetts Boston
- The change has taken place from a campus-centered to a consumer-centered model where control is shared with the student.
- Critical Services – what are the “stressors” for your population? What’s their skill set? How do you support them? Use this to identify and develop your “critical services.”
- One (successful) way that was suggested to increase Engagement: the weekly online chat – not required, but it’s used to talk about issues that are on the minds of the students in the program. Kathleen pointed out that while online is supposed to equal asynchronous, giving equity to all students, she still has very high rates of participation in this synchronous chat.
- Here are some poignant thoughts on Expectations:
- Don’t tell students you will do things that you can’t
- You have to tell students what to expect from tutoring
- Every interaction is a “trust building” opportunity
Kathleen also talked about a successful Virtual Learning Community w/in BB…let the students use it themselves as a place to meet and discuss. This has been a good way to build engagement among her students.
6. Early Engagement Through Online First-Year Experiences: “… methods to engage and connect online students from the first point of contact.”
- Kristen Betts, Associate Clinical Professor, School of Education’s Higher Education Program, Drexel University
- The average percentage of online of a student’s courseload is predicted to be 60% by 2020
- She also suggested that we straight-out ask our students (in the student survey): Are you thinking about transferring/leaving?
- She also argued that orientation is a process, not an event. Their orientation is 75 minutes total…each person talks, then leaves but it continues throughout the year via their FYE.
Their FYE is event-focused…Key events:
- Tea/wine & cheese party (they do this with a virtual component)
- Invited speakers
- Alumni speakers (work with John Smith/Wanda; offer courses online to alumni)
7. The Role of Faculty and Staff in Online Student Retention
- Kathleen Polley, Director, Online RN-BS Program, University of Massachusetts Boston
- “An assessment of student engagement must encompass the policies and practices that institutions use to induce students to take part in these activities.”
- Not everyone (students) need to be socially connected.
- Faculty engagement is key for student engagement….Key Consideration for faculty: “Satisfaction with Transparency” need to know where senior management is going…Faculty satisfaction with policies
- Kathleen suggested that during Week 4 of course, have students provide a Formative Evaluation (e.g. What have you learned so far? What would you still like to learn?)
- Does your school have an Online Readiness Assessment? What does ? Or, How reliable is the assessment?
- Key indicators for student engagement: how frequently they log in, how often they read something before posting.
- “How can we assess how often a student is engaging in the online material?”
8. Delivering Support Services Online
- Kathleen Polley, Director, Online RN-BS Program, University of Massachusetts Boston
- Admissions: do we really need everything we are asking for?
- Have technology scaffolding throughout the semester in online courses [should we create technology CLLOs for each online course?]
- U of New England – Australia: Check their library website for learning skills training (online).
- Students look at the way you deliver your services and equate that with the way that you deliver instruction (i.e. is it quality?)
- Bill Bloemer, Research Associate & Dean Emeritus of Arts & Sciences, University of Illinois Springfield
- Data point: Terms since last registered.
- Does your degree-audit system talk with your data warehouse?
- SP-FA retention vs. FA-SP retention
- What are the completion/graduation rates of those who are online-heavy in course loads?
- “Term-earned hours” is a better predictor than “attempted hours.”
- Course evaluation question: What is your expected grade?
- On-ground courses using online evaluations increased overall return rate.
- Bb has anonymous evaluation feature
- Use online evaluation results as a component of “evaluate instructional modalities” in program review
- Are there online-specific questions on CCSSE?
Title III is going to run a pilot on the use of an ipad.
Here’s the plan. Title III will purchase an i-pad. The device will be on loan to a pilot group of faculty and staff for 2-week intervals. For those who participate, the expectation is that during the two-week period, that faculty or staff member will explore ways to help provide better instruction or service. At the end of the full pilot period, the group will convene and discuss the pros and cons of the ipad, and, if the overall consensus is positive, to consider a larger pilot program for staff and faculty.
Participants were required to submit the following to be considered for the pilot:
- An indication of interest in participating in the project.
- A brief (~200 word) description of what the faculty/staff member would explore (to improve instruction or service).
- A promise to blog during the experiential two-week period.
- A promise to come together and discuss experiences at the end of the pilot period.
Once we get the project up and running (i.e. once we get the ipad), you’ll be able to follow participant reflections/feedback here.
The Title 3 grant we have here at Carteret Community College made it possible for me to attend the Society for Photographic Education National Conference in Philadelphia, PA March 4-7. The theme for this year’s conference was Facing Diversity, which is a timely topic in any discipline. The opening Keynote speaker, Kip Fulbeck, brought the crowd to their feet with his lively and fast paced presentation on the “other” category made up of multiracial Americans, which is the country’s fastest growing demographic.
The individual workshops had amazing variety from excellent presentations demonstrating online education, (our own DL wizard Patrick Keough) to making digital negatives form turn of the century process. Everything old is new again. This seems to be the decade of the hybrid. There were hands on workshops on Adobe Lightroom, which we just purchased for our computer lab and a great presentation on Copyright sponsored by ASMP.
The University and gallery tours showed every type of photography being produced and were a real eye opener for our students. I love to see them light up with enthusiasm as new information and opportunities are presented. It is a big world out there and I am proud when they interject themselves into it by showing their work at the portfolio reviews.
Their work is definitely some of the best student work shown. It validates what we do here and gives them confidence to move forward. The trade show featured 75 vendors from every major photographic dealer and publisher in the country. They provided up to the minute reviews and samples of all upcoming products. Several of them have volunteered to come give free demonstrations at the college.
Philly is an exciting city and presented a great opportunity to get out and shot between talks. We lucked out on the weather and really beat the pavement for some visual treats. This was one of the best conferences we have attended and we all learned a great deal. It also validated what we are doing now in Distance learning and our curriculum.
Curriculum Area Coordinator
Carteret Community College
3505 Arendell Street
Morehead City, N.C. 28557
Click here to read up on the latest educator conference Distance Learning Director Patrick Keough attended in Philadelphia along with Photography Technology Coordinator Cathy Crowell.
Carteret Community College’s Title 3 was generous enough to pay for Tammy and I to go to the 2009 IDEC South Regional Conference! It took place Oct 14-16 and was hosted by Meredith College in Raleigh.
The title was “Text, Twitter & Podcast: Reaching the Millennials”. In order to cover more territory, Tammy and I split up and attended different presentations whenever possible.
One of the workshops:
Weaving Together Stories: Making History Relevant through the Design Cosmology Blog.. This was presented by Patrick Lucas of UNC-G
This presentation was about combining more than one course. Professors working together. The students were expected to blog the whole 16 weeks. This was a great exercise in students working together, and learning to talk out loud about Design! According to Mr. Lucas, by the end of the 16 weeks…Major conversation between students! He felt the blogging enabled them to also talk out loud when they were together in lab, near the end of the semester. They did great on their oral exams/presentations.. Blogging was very effective here.
“Rebuilding Pitt County”
Millennial students seem to be very into community service compared to other groups (baby boomers for example). Millennials are often called Boomerang kids, due to the fact that they move back home after college. Yikes! They seem to have more of a spirit of volunteerism, and do not expect to have just one job over their lifetime. They love working in groups/collaborating/teamwork.
This was about a group of students working with Habitat, and having the opportunity to interact with real clients. It gave them opportunities for scholarly writing & for presenting their project.
“Text, Twitter, Podcasting”… Millenials are adept at filtering information and making snap decisions.. multi-tasking.
A really good book that was recommended during this presentation, “Shift Happens” by Fisch. We’ll have to check it out!
Studies have shown that if students and faculty are attracted/comfortable with spaces used for learning.. it actually raises the retention rate. This is why Steelcase is focusing on today’s Millennial student and their way of learning/communicating (texting, computers, social interaction, groups..) Also, important to note, is that learning takes place everywhere (hallways, lobbies, student centers..).
This presentation was made by Emily Walser. She is coming to CCC to speak to IDesign and anyone else interested about Steelcase, Inc. on Nov 23rd at 1pm.
After attending the SouthEastern Interior Design Educator’s Council Conference, it has been made clear that Carteret Community College is on the cutting edge in Distance Learning. The title of the Conference, might have been a bit misleading. There were some positive mentions regarding blogging (like the workshop by P. Lucas), and his combining of classes/blogging/presenting was an awesome idea..and folks discussed their use of Blackboard, but not to the extent we had anticipated. Many folks/educators out there are still resistant to on-line teaching, (as many of us were several years ago). The Steelcase representative stressed the importance of accomodating the Millennial student and the way they learn (on-line, groups..) She was a good speaker. It was well worth the trip!