Leveraging Internal Strengths to Optimize Seamless Student Services: A Collaborative Approach to Supporting Online Students

Concurrent Session 8

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

How does a multi-campus institution provide services that meet the expectations of 21st century online students? We demonstrate how a collaborative approach through campus partnerships leverages existing expertise and builds capacity for expansion in order to provide services that seamlessly support online students. 


Ilona Marie Hajdu, M.S.Ed. As Senior Associate Director in the Office of Online Education, Ilona also serves as the Compliance Officer for Distance Education at Indiana University. Ilona provides strategic leadership and management over all functional areas of the office, including administration, finance, compliance, online course and program development, data reporting, marketing, and student services. Ilona has presented her work on evolving instructional roles for faculty , core judgments of practicing instructional designers, collaborative seamless services for online students, and facilitating engagement and innovation in higher education compliance at OLC, UPCEA, AECT and AERA.

Extended Abstract

The Office of Online Education (OOE) at Indiana University is a university-wide office charged with managing online education across the university’s seven campuses. OOE is committed to a collaborative approach to serving students that optimizes scale, resources, reputation, and diversity of offerings by integrating online education into the broader culture of the university.

Research from the pasty twenty years indicates that building a sense of community is a key factor for online student satisfaction (Hornak, Akweks & Jeffs, 2010). Students expect to participate in a supportive online community with any and all services available at their convenience (Hughes, 2004). This presentation will begin with a general overview of online education in the context of Indiana University, a statewide university with seven distinct campuses enrolling over 107,000 students. As a university-wide office established in 2012 to manage online education, OOE initially focused on operationalizing a collaborative process for academic program development, including establishing an approval process for online courses and programs offered jointly by multiple campuses. With a goal to provide best-in-class, seamless services for online students, including new student orientation, coaching and mentoring, academic tutoring, career services, and assistance with student conduct and grievance issues, in late 2015 OOE turned its attention to leveraging the services, efficiencies and economies of scale already existing at our individual campuses.

The presentation will then review how OOE operationalized a collaborative approach to providing student services by inviting campuses to respond to a request for proposal (RFP) that identified a suite of services needed to support online students, and established operating principles to ensure partnership success. We will also discuss a few surprising responses from the campuses to our RFP, and the campus partnerships created through this process.

The presentation will wrap up with a discussion of the current state of the campus partner programs, including whether key performance indicators are being met, and the value of a collaborative approach for students and universities. Session attendees will be encouraged to share their experiences with supporting online students, including the use of collaborative models and key performance indicators to drive success.


Hornak, A. M., Akweks, K., & Jeffs, M. (2010). Online student services at the community college. New Directions for Community Colleges2010(150), 79-87.

Hughes, J. A. (2004). Supporting the online learner. In T. Anderson & F. Elloumi (Eds.), Theory and Practice of Online Learning (pp. 367-384). Canada: Athabasca University.