Improving Support for Non-Matriculated Online Students

Concurrent Session 4

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Non-matriculated online students face a unique set of challenges as they enroll in courses and seek to access course and university resources.  Many of the processes developed for matriculated students are not sufficient for this population. This presentation will discuss strategies for addressing these challenges and better supporting these students.

Presenters

Meghanne Freivald is the Online Learning Coordinator and Instructional Technology Team Leader at Alfred University. Her duties at Alfred include training and support for online courses, LMS administration, instructional support, and general technology training for faculty, staff, and students. She has Bachelor's degrees in Education and Theatre Arts from The State University of New York at Fredonia, and a Master's degree from the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University. She is a 2017 graduate of the Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning (IELOL).

Extended Abstract

Each year, Alfred University offers courses during “Allen Term,” which is an online-only winter term that runs from mid-December to mid-January.  Allen Term courses have been offered since 2013, and over the years, the number of non-matriculated students has increased.  During the 2018-2019 Allen Term, the number of non-matriculated students more than tripled.  Many of these students were international.  As a result of this growth, we experienced an increase in the following challenges:

  • The registration process was burdensome to some students
  • Some students had difficulty activating their university email accounts
  • Some students had difficulty logging into Canvas
  • The Information Technology Services (ITS) Helpdesk was closed during winter break
  • Students were instructed to send Allen Term concerns to a dedicated ITS Allen Term email account; some sent their requests to the regular ITS Helpdesk email instead

This presentation will discuss these challenges in further detail, and explain the strategies we have put in place to alleviate these challenges.  These strategies include:

  • Creating an online registration process for non-matriculated students
  • Simplifying the account activation process
  • Establishing relationships with non-matriculated students; sending email communications from the Online Learning Coordinator prior to the start of the term
  • Creating an Online Student Support web page (URL will be provided)
  • Forwarding the ITS Helpdesk email to senior staff who are on-call during Allen Term

Participants will be asked to share challenges they have experienced at their institutions, and to offer strategies that they have employed for assisting online students. They will also be asked to reflect on how non-matriculated students are supported at their institutions.   At the end of the session, participants will be able to:

  • Anticipate potential challenges for non-matriculated students at their own institutions
  • Empathize with non-matriculated students, particularly those with language barriers
  • Identify strategies for assisting non-matriculated online students at their institutions
  • Consider how the presented strategies could be used or adapted for all students