Building a 24/7 Knowledge Base For Students: Lessons Learned

Concurrent Session 6

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Providing adequate technology support for students in online programs has challenged many colleges and universities. We report on the development and implementation of an online 24/7 IT knowledge base for online and residential students at the Medical University of South Carolina, and lead session participants in project planning such support.


Dusti Annan-Coultas, EdD is Assistant Professor and Director of Educational Technology at the College of Health Professions at the Medical University of South Carolina. She works to promote the effective use of technology for teaching and learning, and has facilitated numerous workshops and short courses for students, faculty, and staff on a variety of topics related to instructional technology.

Additional Authors

Dr. Melissa Hortman has worked in community colleges, liberal arts, and professional institutions for over a decade. She is currently the Director of Instructional Technology and an Assistant Professor as the Medical University of South Carolina. She serves as the administrator for institution-wide educational technology, which includes the learning management system, lecture capture tool, and other instructional tools. In addition, she also leads initiatives in good instructional design practices, enhancing online learning programs, ensuring digital accessibility, institution-wide faculty development, and innovative teaching techniques. Dr. Hortman also teaches courses in the Office of Interprofessional Initiates and the Master of Science in Clinical Research program. Working with diverse student and faculty populations throughout her background, success is found in the connections that are formed, and her passion is to facilitate and enhance these connections with technology.

Extended Abstract

For at least the last few years, developing mechanisms to support students in online programs has been a significant issue for most institutions of higher education. In 2014, developing IT staff and organizational models to facilitate agility and changing environments was the fourth most significant issue reported in the EDUCAUSE Top 10 IT issues report (Grajeck, 2014). Similar results appeared in 2015 and in 2016. Higher education is an environment of continual change. Providing effective and cost-efficient support for online, blended and technology-infused academic programs will likely be an evolving issue for some time.

At the Medical University of South Carolina, a 24/7 online knowledge base was developed and deployed in Fall 2015, using existing personnel, systems and other resources, as a mechanism to provide just-in time technology assistance to both online and residential students.

We will present decisions made by an Online Education Technical Advisory Committee to develop this service, produce resources provided within the site, and create mechanisms for maintaining currency of information. A demo of the system will be conducted. Site traffic reports for the first year will be presented, as well as results of an online evaluation of student users.

Finally, we will lead participants in a brainstorm and discussion of potential challenges of building an online knowledge base at their institutions, with the end results to develop beginning ideas of a project plan for such an initiative.

Learning outcomes will be:

  1. At the end of the session, participants will be able to assess challenges and needed resources for building an online 24/7 knowledge base.
  2. By the end of the session, participants will construct beginning ideas related to a project plan for building an online 24/7 knowledge base, including resources needed and communication strategies.