Each week we meet via Twitter for #IOLchat to discuss current issues related to online learning. Participants include students, instructors, advisors, eLearning companies, schools, publishers, and instructional designers.
Why do students drop out of college? Students who are at-risk of leaving their programs before completion may be facing any number of challenges from low self-esteem and insufficient academic skills, to low income and motivation levels. In addition, many nontraditional students are struggling to meet all of their responsibilities at work, home and school.
Online programs can offer flexibility and personalized learning options to help students meet these challenges, but retention rates continue to be an issue. This week we discussed identification, monitoring, and support of students in online classrooms. Here’s what our participants had to say:
Looking for Signs
- Early alert systems track student progress and notify instructors when students are falling behind. Instructors can’t do it alone. They need to be able to refer students to advisors for help.
- Services like those offered by SmarterMeasure and AspirEdu help programs identify at-risk students while they are enrolled, so that outreach and assistance can take place throughout the semester. Predictive analysis proactively identifies at-risk students so you can “focus the most attention on the most at-risk students.”
“Response rates of students can be low – not responding to outreach efforts from support service providers, such as advisors and coaches – how can we connect?”
- Think about how are these resources are being advertised. Are there other venues?
- How early can at-risk students be identified? Admissions, advising, and instructional professionals many be able to provide critical assistance.
- There are many communication tools available – text messaging, Facebook, phone, email – but finding the most effective one(s) for you and your students may take some experimentation.
“A personal connection is helpful!”
- When available, on-ground learning centers and offices can play a role in retention.
- Consider the details of your outreach efforts: “I get more responses from students when I include a picture in my email signature.”
- “The little things can make a big difference.”
Advice for Students
- “Never be afraid to ask for help!”
- “Set goals, find a mentor, and determine your priorities.”
- Persistence is key – keep at it even when things aren’t going well, and let your instructor know you need assistance.
For more from the most recent live session, review the chat feed below. Our past chats can be found on the archives page.
This week’s read-aheads:
Early Identification of At-Risk Students in On-line Classes Using Technology to Improve On-line Student Retention and Success from Andrea Henne, IJournal: Insight Into Student Services
The “Connected College”: Secrets to Improving Student Retention from Shannon Meadows, WECT Blog.
This week’s chat feed:
Image credit: rrunaway, Flickr, CC-BY