The “Successful You” Communication Model: 2 Years of Data on Project Success

Concurrent Session 5

Brief Abstract

An evidence-based, replicable model for “translating” institutional student success messages into “student-to-student voice” via student-friendly media in a high traffic venue (LMS) with an overt emphasis on clear action steps.


A popular speaker and facilitator, Dr. Kelvin Thompson regularly addresses groups throughout the US on topics related to online/blended learning and educational technology while he serves as the Executive Director of the University of Central Florida's (UCF) Center for Distributed Learning ( with a faculty appointment as a graduate faculty scholar in UCF's College of Education & Human Performance. Dr. Thompson has collaborated on the design of hundreds of online and blended courses over the past twenty years and is active in the online education community. Kelvin developed the BlendKit Course open courseware ( as part of UCF's Blended Learning Toolkit, and he also co-hosts TOPcast: The Teaching Online Podcast available on iTunes and at His personal research interests center around how interaction affects learner engagement, and information on his Online Course Criticism qualitative evaluation model for facilitating the scholarship of teaching and learning in online and blended environments is available online ( Kelvin Thompson holds an EdD in curriculum and instruction and an MA in instructional systems technology from UCF and a Bachelor of Music Education degree from The Florida State University. Curriculum vitae is available online at

Extended Abstract

Perhaps you’ve participated in conversations at your institution in which student affairs professionals, IT staff, faculty, and/or other colleagues lament that “students don’t read [institutional] email” messages and wish for students to act upon established university milestones that lead to their academic success.


As an outgrowth of an institution-wide student success initiative, representatives from UCF’s student affairs and academic affairs divisions worked together to create a replicable model for communicating with students about important topics in ways that they listen and take action. At its heart the model involves “translating” institutional messages into a “student-to-student voice” via student-friendly media in a high traffic venue with an overt emphasis on clear action steps. Essential to the formation of this innovative model was collaboration between multiple offices, the professional advising community, and a student work group. The model requires alignment between 1) success milestones; 2) message points; 3) essential, concrete calls to action; 4)  multi-tiered performance metrics (data); 5) student-written scripts; 6) guidance by professional video producers; 7) distribution venues; and 8) a “campaign mindset” for adoption by various stakeholders. An overall emphasis on brevity and student-perceived relevance is a hallmark of the model.


In its first two years of implementation, six short (1 minute or less) videos with clear calls to action on topics that can negatively impact students’ academic progress if not addressed were distributed primarily through the institution’s learning management system and secondarily via various offices and other student-facing venues (e.g., via digital signage and social media). Despite the variety of innovative distribution venues, venue-specific tracking data indicate that distributing these brief video messages via the widely-adopted, cross-modality LMS. The first phase videos were scripted by students and produced by professionals to assure a positive first impression. Second phase videos were scripted and produced by students following guidelines from video professionals.


Data indicate that a large number of students access the videos featured each semester and take action as a result. While analytics show new videos receive a “bump” in accesses, periodic “reruns” of existing videos still draw student clicks. Additional data on perceptions of students and stakeholders are being compiled. Evaluating long term impact is a work in progress, but signs are promising.


This session will be co-presented by two members of the inter-departmental “Successful You” team: one from student affairs and one from online learning. The presentation will be replete with examples and demonstrations, and an active Twitter backchannel will be encouraged through establishment of a session hashtag (in addition to the conference hashtag) and monitored for response by an associate. Participants will receive take aways containing how-to tips and links to sample “Successful You” videos shared during the session.The presenters will solicit input and feedback from the participants throughout the session via online polling, question-and-answer, and through the backchannel. Videos are available for preview at:





  1. Discussion (5 minutes)  

    1. How do you communicate with students?

    2. What evidence do you have that these communications are effective?

  2. The Model (25 minutes)  

    1. Screen five of the one-minute “student-to-student” videos from UCF

    2. Review the multi-tiered data from UCF’s first two years of implementation

    3. Identify the essential elements of the underlying communication model

    4. Review the conceptual and production processes

  3. Application Discussion (15 minutes)

    1. Participants identify elements of the “Successful You” model applicable in their contexts

    2. Participants identify possible barriers to implementation

    3. Q&A