What Does it Take to Support Online Students?

Concurrent Session 9
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

There’s growing literature on effective pedagogy in online learning but figuring out how to support and engage online students in the campus community is often under considered. The panel will discuss what it takes to support online students, engaging staff in change, using an online program manager (OPM) and more!


The future of online education will support faculty to enhance student learning using interactive technologies. This presentation illustrates methods to translate various traditional curricular approaches into state-of-science educational experiences leveraging instructional designers to improve student comprehension and assessment of course objectives.



Dr. Jaimie Hoffman has worked across the higher education landscape for over twenty years. Her expertise includes assessment in higher education, student affairs administration, development of college student leaders, inclusion and equity, and use of technology inside and outside of the classroom for advancing student learning and engagement. Jaimie is currently the Director of Student Affairs and Learning at Noodle Partners (an online program manager) where she works with campuses create support structures for online students. She has served as a full-time faculty member for four years, most recently (from 2015-2017) she was an Assistant Professor of Clinical Education at the University of Southern California (USC) in Rossier’s School of Education. Jaimie also served as an adjunct faculty member at various institutions in the United States. Through her teaching career, Jaimie has taught face-to-face, blended, and online (using synchronous and asynchronous technology) courses on assessment, research, communication, diversity, and organizational leadership to students pursuing bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Prior to her work as a full-time faculty member, Jaimie held various roles in student affairs and information technology. In the area of information technology, Jaimie served as a Teaching and Learning Innovations Specialist at CSU Channel Islands where she provided pedagogical training and support to faculty teaching blended and online courses. Jaimie spent the first 15 years of her career working in, and leading student affairs/services – she worked in, and with the following programmatic areas: assessment and training, new student programs, orientation, leadership programs, residential education, judicial affairs, campus recreation, and career development services. Jaimie received her Ed.D. in Leadership from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and M.Ed. in Higher and Postsecondary Education from Arizona State University. She maintains leadership roles in various professional associations including the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Faculty Council and the International Higher Education teaching and Learning Association (HETL). Julie Sara Boyd is a highly experienced mathematics educator with over eight years of secondary instruction in urban secondary schools. Boyd received her Master’s in Industrial Engineering from Northwestern University and a Masters in Secondary Math Education from City College of New York. She has been a professor, mentor, and coach at various schools and organizations in the DC area, including E.L Haynes Public Charter School and Math for America. A member of the AU community since 2011, Boyd is currently the Assistant Dean for Online Programs where she leads the online master’s and doctorate teams in execution of our 3 graduate online programs. She was the former Director of the Office of Teacher Education, where she advised both graduate and undergraduate teacher candidates. As the Director of the Office of Teacher Education, Boyd’s main goal was to create strong school and community partnerships throughout the DC, Maryland and Virginia area for field experiences, including the Service Learning course.

Extended Abstract

Intended outcomes/goals of session – as a result of participating in this session attendees will be able to:


●     Learn and share barriers for supporting online students

●     Learn and share strategies for successful practices in supporting online students

●     Discuss the experience of working with an OPM in building an online program


Objective 1:  Participants will gain knowledge to translate on-ground course objectives into the on-line classroom.

Objective 2: Participants will be able to conceptualize the process and implementation for developing learning objectives for online courses.

Objective 3: Participants will develop strategies to leverage technology to improve real-time learning as well as online curriculum.

Objective 4: Participants will learn to maximize the role of instructional designers to support faculty in developing state of science courses to advance students learning goals.

Objective 5: Participants will develop a robust framework for evaluating learning objectives in the online learning space



Enrollment trends illustrate an increase in enrolment of students in online education – with an increase from 4.5 million to 5.2 million undergraduates from 2012 to 2016 and a larger increase in graduate students of 3.2 million in 2012 to 5.8 million in 2016 (Poulin & Straut, 2016; Allen & Seaman, 2016). In fact, 30% of students [JH2] in the United States take at least one course online (Allen & Seaman). There’s no doubt that the future of higher education will evolve and even likely rely upon online learning as a method for increasing access to higher education. While retention data are inconsistent, unfortunately some report as high as 20% of students dropping out (Nistor & Neubauer, 2010; Crawley & Fetzner, 2013).  All students, including online students do better academically when they feel valued, welcome, and supported (Ludwig-Hardman & Dunlap, 2003) thus it’s important to understand and unpack best practices in supporting online students.


The panelists in this presentation have all launched an online graduate program within the last year and hold a leadership position in student services/affairs. All panelists launched the program with an OPM. They will share their experiences launching the student support elements of the online program, engaging their staff in change, working with an OPM through the process, and how they approached providing services in various areas (e.g. mental health counselling, disability accommodations, engagement in co-curricular activities/involvement opportunities, career development support, alumni engagement, academic skills development, student conduct processing, assistance with health services). Audience engagement will be woven throughout the presentation leveraging technology for polling and collecting feedback/questions. The panelists will have a diligent lens toward timing ensuring the session truly is interactive.



Outline of presentation

1.     Panelists introduce themselves 0-5 min

2.     Panelists each share 2-3 successes (include discussion of working with OPM as appropriate) – 6-15 min

3.     Panelists each share 2-3 challenges (include discussion of working with OPM as appropriate) – 16-25 min

4.     Audience vote on what they’d like to discuss more (based on what was shared by panelists during successes and challenges) – 25-30

5.     Audience discusses successes and challenges with another person – 30-35

6.     Panelists discuss results of audience vote – 35-45

7.      (if time) Audience vote on what support area they’d like to discuss and ask panelists about OR submit new questions: mental health counselling, disability accommodations, engagement in co-curricular activities/involvement opportunities, career development support, alumni engagement, academic skills development (e.g. tutoring and writing support) student conduct processing, assistance with health services.


Poulin, R. and Straut, T. (2016). WCET Distance Education Enrollment Report 2016. Retrieved from http://wcet.wiche.edu/initiatives/research/WCET-Distance-Education-Enrol... ort-2016


Crawley, A. & Fetzner, M. (2013). Providing service innovations to students inside and outside of the online classroom: Focusing on student success. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17(1), 7-12.


Ludwig-Hardman, S. & Dunlap, J. C. (2003). Learner support services for online students: Scaffolding for success. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 4(1), 1-15.


Nistor, N. & Neubauer, K. (2010). From participation to dropout: Quantitative participation patterns in online university courses. Computers & Education, 55, 663-672.