As you know, this year DELO reorganized to sharpen its focus on online learning and strengthen the support provided to students and faculty. As part of this reorganization, WKU Online & WKU On Demand have joined forces to increase the breadth and depth of the support provided for online learners with a focus on student success and retention, as well as student recruitment.
Since coming together this year, we’ve increased outreach efforts, student support services, and have begun the development of new reference materials and resources for faculty and staff who work with online learners.
Below is a brief “progress report” with a few resources that may interest you:
- Developed the Advisors’ Guide to Online Learning: The Guide is a comprehensive website for faculty and staff who work with online learners, and is tailored to allow direct navigation to most needed resources from a faculty and staff perspective. This site will provide you with the most up-to-date information on things such as:
- Online Degree Programs
- Completing the Colonnade Program Online
- Changes Impacting Online Learners
- New Support Services for Online Learners
- Worked with the instructional design team to redesign the Topper Orientation Program for Online Learners: TOP for Online Learners is for degree-seeking undergraduate students, and built around the idea that the needs of those studying exclusively online differ from those living on campus. TOP for Online Learners walks students through the process of setting up their student accounts and accessing resources online. They also receive tips for succeeding at a distance, gain an understanding of financial aid, as it applies to web and on demand classes, and more! In TopNet, students with a “web” campus indicator are directed to this page for more information. Once enrolled in the orientation, and they proceed at their own pace. Upon completion their TOP hold is lifted, they are provided with advisor information, and can download a guide for future reference.
- Expanded Coaching for Academic Readiness & Excellence (CARE) via Starfish EARLY ALERT: Starfish is a retention software for monitoring student progress in their courses and degree program, and provides daily reports of critical action items. The list of action items are based on the parameters of the flags that coaches set-up in Starfish. Flags are among the key features in Starfish – they are customizable and can be set based on academic standing, type of course, student, student-group, course participation, assignments, and/or course average. They allow coaches to manage those most at-risk, first, through a comprehensive dashboard that reaches across all disciplines.
Starfish makes it possible for staff to provide high-touch support for a large number of students in an efficient manner without ever seeing inside the Blackboard course site. This, in turn, helps faculty manage their workloads.
It’s scalable, and student centered. The implementation of Starfish EARLY ALERT has allowed us to increase the number of students who receive coaching from 12 to over 2,000!
For more information on CARE, including coaching best practices and a virtual tour of Starfish EARLY ALERT, click here.
- Newsletters: As an additional way of reaching out, and providing timely information, we now have both a student newsletter, and a faculty/staff newsletter. The faculty/staff newsletter is published quarterly, and will be sent by email. Additionally, you can always access the latest issue through the Advisors’ Guide.
- Expanded Communication Plans: As part of the recruitment process, we have expanded communication plans, and enhanced the information provided to prospective online learners. This communication incorporates inbound marketing strategies by providing timely, student-centered information based on the value of earning a degree, career outlook information, and downloadable resources. Communication goes out to students who have inquired, but not applied for admission, and students who have been admitted, but not registered for classes:
- Initial inquiry correspondence
- Follow-up correspondence received within two days after initial conversation
- 2 weeks
- 30 Days
- 45 Days
- 60 Days
- 90 Days
- 120 Days
Have you noticed a gap in support among the online learners with whom you work? Or do you have a cool idea for a new support strategy? We would love the opportunity to work with you! If you have suggestions – whether it’s for how we can improve internal communication/information or student support – please email me or call 270-745-4087.