The 2013 Survey of Online Learning Report was released last week on the Sloan Consortium website. This annual series tracks trends in online higher ed in the U.S. through use of institutional data and responses from chief academic officers at colleges and universities nationally. Among key findings of the 2013 survey, three-fourths of chief academic officers think the learning outcomes in online education are the same or better than with face-to-face instruction, but more than 40% of them say that retaining students in online courses is more difficult than in face-to-face courses.
Fortunately, Blackboard has built-in tools to help you monitor student progress. In addition to the Grade Center, check out the Performance Dashboard and Retention Center in the Evaluation section of your Blackboard course Control Panel. These tools can be used with no set up, though you do have the option to customize the Retention Center. The Performance Dashboard gives you a quick overview of each student’s online course activity (for example, days since last Blackboard course access, and level of discussion board participation). The Retention Center provides a more detailed picture of which students may be struggling or at risk in your course. A glance at the Performance Dashboard and Retention Center can give you a heads-up at any point in the term about student engagement and success, so that you can take steps to communicate with students about your concerns and offer strategies for improvement.
Beyond this, make sure your students know about the Ecampus Student Success links, which direct students to Ecampus Success Counselors, online tutoring support, Academic Success (ALS) courses, personalized coaching services from InsideTrack, and other services available to OSU online students.
What strategies do you find most successful in retaining online students in your courses?