Online Courses And Student Success – (Part 2 of 5)

Not all students do well in online courses. In fact, the statistics indicate that online courses have a much higher dropout rate compared to traditional face-to-face courses. The dropout rates in online courses tend to be 10 to 20 percent higher than in face-to-face courses. Institutional level factors like technical support, academic support, advising, and availability of resources can support student success in online courses. At the course level, there are many simple strategies and techniques that instructors can use to support students’ success in their online classes. 

There are many different topics to cover and best practices to share in this area of Online Courses and Student Success. In an effort to break the information up into smaller chunks, a different topic will be covered each month for the rest of the year. The complete 5-part series will be seen here:

  • August 2018 – Organization and layout of the course
  • September 2018 – Communicate clearly
  • October 2018 – Preparation
  • November 2018 – Chunk the content and scaffold instruction
  • December 2018 – Humanize the course

Communicate clearly

Many students report feeling lost and confused in online learning environments. Due to lack of synchronous and face-to-face contact, sometimes students are unclear on the expectations or need reassurance that they understand the expectations.

  • Instructors need to provide detailed and very explicit instructions about the course format and how students can locate support, if needed.
  • Instructors need to provide detailed and very explicit instructions about assignments, expectations, grading criteria and participation.
  • Provide an ongoing forum or discussion section where students find answers to their questions.
  • Provide and use rubrics that can be accessed ahead of the due dates. Also provide sample assignments that are easy to locate. Creating a short video tutorial explaining the rubric and assignment would give students a very concrete idea of the expectations. In other words, an “assignment tour” or “assignment overview”.
  • A quiz tool can be utilized to ensure comprehension of course responsibilities as outlined in the syllabus. Students are allowed multiple attempts to take the quiz under low pressure, which ensures confidence when utilizing the quiz tool function. Use caution here, all too often instructors will update their syllabus from session to session yet fail to update the associated quiz. The goal with this type of quiz is to ease students into the course and allow for success on low stakes quizzes to build confidence.