Online Courses And Student Success – (Part 4 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

Chunk the content and scaffold instruction

Sometimes the workload and reading requirements in online courses may seem daunting to students, especially if they don’t have very good time management and prioritization skills. Chunking and organizing the content meaningfully into modules/units not only makes it easy for students to understand and remember the concepts but also makes it more manageable for them. By doing this, the instructor can present complex concepts/ideas as “bite-size information” so students can understand, apply, and retain the information. By incorporating assessments and feedback with every learning module, instructors have the opportunity to scaffold students’ learning.

  • Break large assignments or projects into smaller milestones to help students manage the workload, and provide feedback at each step.
  • Provide review sessions or instructional videos where you notice gaps in learning to clarify concepts.
  • Release modules one at a time to help set the pace of the course and keep the students together in an effort to help create a learning community.