Learner Feedback Helping Develop New Online Education Services, According to Latest Issue of Sloan Consortium’s ‘Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks’

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Contributors to this issue represent research initiatives at 20 higher education institutions across the U.S. and Canada.

Drawn from student perspectives, the articles in this issue illustrate good practices designed to improve academic success and retention.

The latest issue of the Sloan Consortium’s (Sloan-C’s) Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks (JALN Volume 17, Issue 1) looks at how feedback from online learners is helping evolve and improve online education services. Contributors to the issue represent research initiatives at 20 higher education institutions across the U.S. and Canada.

Editors Anita Crawley (University of California Los Angeles Extension and Illinois Online Network) and Marie Fetzner (Monroe Community College) open the current issue with an article titled, “Providing Service Innovations to Students Inside and Outside of the Online Classroom: Focusing on Student Success.” This piece provides an overview of the scope of student services, acknowledging that the most effective approaches for developing and delivering services are not always clear. As technological aids for learning, teaching and support evolve, student-centered support “inside and outside the online classroom calls for collaborative efforts from many constituencies.”

Drawn from student perspectives, the articles in this issue illustrate good practices designed to improve academic success and retention. Highlights from JALN Volume 17, Issue 1 include:

“What Do Unsuccessful Online Students Want Us To Know?” – Marie Fetzner shares the results of Monroe Community College’s (Rochester, NY) online student retention surveys conducted over a span of 12 years. The survey responses—from unsuccessful (Grade F or W) online students, a population whose perspectives are not typically included in online program evaluation—include the reasons why students felt they were not successful and advice they would share with other learners interested in taking an online course.

“Developing and Implementing Comprehensive Student Support Services for Online Students”- Marwin Britto and Susan Rush (Lone Star College System) present the efforts of Lone Star College-Online to improve online student retention rates through the development of comprehensive support services, including technology support, an early alert system, advising services, case management advising, readiness assessment and student orientation.

“Developing and Implementing a Mandatory Online Student Orientation” - Kona Renee Jones (Richland Community College (RCC)) provides compelling information about how a mandatory online student orientation for first time online students at RCC improved online student retention rates.

“Online Advising Pilot at the Community College of Vermont” - Kimberly Nolan (Community College of Vermont (CCV)) summarizes feedback gathered from students at the CCV who were a part of an online advising pilot. The students had a slightly higher retention rate then the overall online student population and reported a strong desire for an advisor who would stay with them throughout their academic experience.

“Social and Student Engagement and Support: The Sloan-C Quality Scorecard for the Administration of Online Programs” - Janet C. Moore (The Sloan Consortium) and Kaye Shelton (Lamar University) take the Student Engagement and Support indicators from the Quality Scorecard and cluster them into categories that reflect criteria from regional accreditation commissions and offer examples of effective practices in each category.

“Defining the Role Adjustment Profile of Learners and Instructors Online” - Martha Burkle (Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada/Informatics Circle of Research Excellence) and Martha Cleveland-Innes (Athabasca University) examine the dynamic and evolving roles of instructors and learners in online education.

“Online Mentoring for Biotechnology Graduate Students: An Industry-Academic Partnership” – Rana Khan (University of Maryland University College (UMUC)) and Arhonda Gogos describe an online graduate biotechnology mentoring program at the UMUC that utilizes mentors from the biotechnology industry. The mentees indicated that interaction with their mentors improved their understanding of the biotechnology industry, helped them to focus on their career goals, and gave them greater initiative to pursue networking opportunities.

“Accommodating Mobile Learning in College Programs” – Jay Alden (National Defense University (NDU)), in a study of student’s perceptions of education with mobile devices at NDU, recommends a strategic approach for choosing and introducing applications. Alden also reviews steps for developing institutional mobile device policies.

“Implementing Electronic Portfolios through Social Media Platforms: Steps and Student Perceptions” - David W. Denton and David Wicks (Seattle Pacific University (SPU)) explain the use of electronic student portfolios (eportfolios) based on easy to use, free, and customizable social media applications. A case study at SPU identifies student perceptions of using social media as a repository for electronic portfolio content; the authors also provide a guide for instructors for implementing social media based eportfolios.

“The Social & Mobile Learning Experiences of Students Using Mobile E-books” - Jeff S. Kissinger (Florida State College (FSC)) shares case study findings of FSC students who used mobile electronic textbook (e-book) readers in their college introductory sociology course. The students reported that they were competent in their use of e-books, and that they valued the use of e-books for their learning, although they would also like to have more interactive, socially-embedded learning experiences with their e-books.

“Educational Leadership in an Online World: Connecting Students to Technology Responsibly, Safely, and Ethically” - Mike Ribble (Manhattan/Ogden Public Schools) and Teresa Northern Miller (Kansas State University) introduce a digital citizenship model for school administrators, students, and parents to use for digital interactions. This nine-factor framework addresses the gap in technology knowledge, provides good practice for using social media, and includes technology strategies for personal safety and responsibility online.

“U-Pace Instruction: Improving Student Success by Integrating Content Mastery and Amplified Assistance” - Diane M. Reddy, Raymond Fleming, Laura E. Pedrick, Danielle L. Jirovec, Heidi M. Pfeiffer, Rodney A. Swain (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), Katie A. Ports (Virginia Commonwealth University), Jessica L. Barnack-Tavlaris (The College of New Jersey), and Alicia M. Helion (Lakeland College) discuss U-Pace, an application that integrates content mastery with Amplified Assistance (instructor-initiated, individually tailored feedback to students), including the important result that a significantly higher percentage of U-Pace students earned a final course grade of A or B compared with conventionally taught students.

About JALN
Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks (JALN), published by the Sloan Consortium, is a major source of knowledge about online education. The aim of the JALN is to describe original work in asynchronous learning networks (ALN), including experimental results. It is available online and in print. For more information, visit http://sloanconsortium.org/publications/jaln_main.

About Sloan-C
The Sloan Consortium (Sloan-C) is an institutional and professional leadership organization dedicated to integrating online education into the mainstream of higher education, helping institutions and individual educators improve the quality, scale, and breadth of education. For more information, visit http://www.sloanconsortium.org.


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