Event Title

Build a Community to Retain Students in Online Programs

Location

Legends Room

Event Website

http://uenr.warnercnr.colostate.edu/

Start Date

3-23-2012 1:30 PM

End Date

3-23-2012 2:00 PM

Description

The proliferation of online or distance education continues to increase at unprecedented rates (Allen & Seaman, 2010). Although online programs have the capacity to increase enrollments without the need for brick and mortar buildings and classrooms, student attrition continues to be a significant challenge (Stanford-Bowers, 2008). The online Masters of Parks, Recreation, Tourism & Sport Management (PRTSM) at NC State University has addressed student attrition by incorporating the principles of learning communities into program development and delivery. The early result of this initiative is a current student retention rate of over 90%. Although relatively new, the concept of learning communities was created to minimize negative student experiences through linking or clustering of courses for a cohort of students (MacGregor et. al., 1999). With online courses, students often report a sense of isolation and remoteness that can serve as both a barrier to learning and as a contributing factor to early dropout (Conrad & Donaldson, 2004). The low attrition rate achieved by our online Masters of PRTSM may be due to the community building activities within courses and across the program among both students and faculty. The following community building strategies /activities are currently used: (1) students enter and complete the program as a cohort group; (2) students are required to attend an on-campus 2-day orientation to the program; (3) each student creates an autobiographical video; (4) students are provided with personal and timely attention from admission through to graduation; (5) social media is used to facilitate ongoing interaction among students and faculty; and (6) weekly online sessions with full audio, chat, and shared whiteboard are a required component of all classes. In addition to building a learning community among students, the NC State University program has been equally successful at creating a community among online course instructors. Faculty meet regularly, consult with each other on course content and delivery issues, and participate in each other’s classes. While it is difficult to discern the unique contribution of each community building activity to our overall student attrition rate, the overall results are quite compelling. This presentation will include a detailed discussion of community building activities and suggestions for incorporating these principles into any online education program.

Comments

Citation: Kanters, M, Harrolle, MG. 2012. Build a Community to Retain Students in Online Programs. UENR 9th Biennial Conference. http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cuenr/9thBiennial/Sessions/21/

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Mar 23rd, 1:30 PM Mar 23rd, 2:00 PM

Build a Community to Retain Students in Online Programs

Legends Room

The proliferation of online or distance education continues to increase at unprecedented rates (Allen & Seaman, 2010). Although online programs have the capacity to increase enrollments without the need for brick and mortar buildings and classrooms, student attrition continues to be a significant challenge (Stanford-Bowers, 2008). The online Masters of Parks, Recreation, Tourism & Sport Management (PRTSM) at NC State University has addressed student attrition by incorporating the principles of learning communities into program development and delivery. The early result of this initiative is a current student retention rate of over 90%. Although relatively new, the concept of learning communities was created to minimize negative student experiences through linking or clustering of courses for a cohort of students (MacGregor et. al., 1999). With online courses, students often report a sense of isolation and remoteness that can serve as both a barrier to learning and as a contributing factor to early dropout (Conrad & Donaldson, 2004). The low attrition rate achieved by our online Masters of PRTSM may be due to the community building activities within courses and across the program among both students and faculty. The following community building strategies /activities are currently used: (1) students enter and complete the program as a cohort group; (2) students are required to attend an on-campus 2-day orientation to the program; (3) each student creates an autobiographical video; (4) students are provided with personal and timely attention from admission through to graduation; (5) social media is used to facilitate ongoing interaction among students and faculty; and (6) weekly online sessions with full audio, chat, and shared whiteboard are a required component of all classes. In addition to building a learning community among students, the NC State University program has been equally successful at creating a community among online course instructors. Faculty meet regularly, consult with each other on course content and delivery issues, and participate in each other’s classes. While it is difficult to discern the unique contribution of each community building activity to our overall student attrition rate, the overall results are quite compelling. This presentation will include a detailed discussion of community building activities and suggestions for incorporating these principles into any online education program.

https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cuenr/9thBiennial/Sessions/21