While higher education has grown especially in regards to distance learning and online education there is a growing concern on ways to not only establish an online environment but also a curriculum that aids in student retention. Both of these issues can present concerns for Universities and educators.
So the question to ask is how can Universities and their online faculty hold on to traditional teaching objectives and learning outcomes while simultaneously providing online students with the same curriculum for success of face-to-face and/or blended courses.
The next concern is student retention. Retention is a major concern for any online course as well as the instructor. As well as online faculty should remain worried about retention due to the lack of face-to-face interaction with students and vice/versa. It is just as important that along with developing a course curriculum online faculty along with program departments and Universities should develop a retention strategy that focuses on developing learning opportunities as a means to retain students at all levels of online learning.
How do online faculty devise a strategy that will enable an instructor to hold on to their students in an environment that is increasingly self-directed focused educational programs. What other tools can be developed or exist in our educational tool kits to engage our students? In order to strategically engage and retain your students, it’s important to regularly check in with them to learn and gage how they feel about their work, where it challenges them, and where they struggle.
A good strategy is to provide a constant line of communication between the instructor and the student as well as providing a forum for interaction between students and a class questions thread. By holding conversations with students the aim of making your each student feel connected to the course is a sound strategy for retention. Especially since the online environment limits interaction between instructor and student since as an instructor you are not there to physically interact regarding their overall class performance and/or previous course assignments.
The ability to forge a sense of trust and to align course objectives and learning goals is at the core of a good online course management. Once you’ve established an environment of trust, you must maintain not only the trust but also shape their own educational experience creating a culture of retention through communication efforts with students.
Tapping into the various resources provided by these resources can help you develop an online environment that aligns not only with course objectives and learning goals but also additional online strategies that can also help retain students. Just remember that as long as you keep the lines of communication open and you understand where your student struggles and succeeds you have set up a good strategy for retention.