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
Humanize the course
Students report that one of the main reasons they drop out of online courses or programs is because they feel lonely and isolated. Learning is a social activity; we learn through interactions and discussions with others. In the absence of face-to-face contact, online learning can be an isolating experience if there are no opportunities to interact with others in the course. Humanize the online experience through personal interactions and stories and add the human touch to it.
- Set a warm, welcoming tone right in the beginning of the course to connect with students and find ways to create the week-one excitement…every week.
- Do ice-breaking activities to create a community; ask students to share personal profiles, bios, stories, and other examples of personal information. Students will be less likely to drop the course and let others done if they have made a connection.
- Offer a “live” orientation session through a Web conferencing tool so students have the opportunity to interact with the instructor in real time. For example, virtual office hours.
- Provide a discussion forum for non-course-related social interactions. Keep it fun!
- Encourage peer-to-peer support. Perhaps offer a general discussion area that is primarily for students.
- Use group projects to build rapport among students.
- Provide a personal response to students on their personal profile. This is a MUST. Perhaps have a few canned comments ready to go that can be quickly personalized for each student.
- Always let students know when you are available and that you are open to scheduling time to meet with them as needed. For example, use a closing sentence in all communications that lets students know you’re available. For example, “as always, contact me with any questions or if I can assist in any way”.