#WelcomeOnlineLearners: Strategies to Launch, Redesign, or Optimize Your Institution’s Resources for New Online Learners

Workshop Session 1

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Join four institutions in a lively, collaborative workshop (BYOD) on designing, building, and evaluating online student success resources. Team exercises will guide participants to develop a plan to launch, redesign, or optimize their new student programming. We will use collaborative tools to build a collective takeaway resource for all participants.


Mitchell Farmer is Assistant Director, Campus Partner Programs for the Office of Online Education at Indiana University. Mitchell supports the development of seamless online student services through a collaborative partnership model with offices across the IU system.
I am the Senior Managing Director for Professional, Continuing, and Online Education for the College of Science and the College of Liberal Arts. As a Purdue Online administrative lead, I partner with the College's academic leads as well as the functional leaders of Learning Technologies, Program Management, Student Services, and Online Corporate Partnerships. I currently teach online for University College's First-Year Experience at IUPUI.
I am fascinated by the intersection of human connectedness and technology. I currently support Oregon State Ecampus students who are studying online with academic and holistic coaching. I seek connections in learner development and explore the intrinsic motivation within each individual. I also partner with our curriculum and development team to help create engaging online communities, update and maintain websites, and design mobile technologies. I approach each day with an eagerness to innovate and ideate and am fortunate to work with a team that supports this type of learner centered work.
Tess Diver is the Senior Director, Customer Experience Insights at Southern New Hampshire University. She leads a team of UX researchers and designers committed to inspiring continuous improvement and innovation by enabling leaders across the university to empathize with the student experience. Her work focuses on generating insights and creating organizational capacity for embracing customer voice in the design and development of products, interactions, and experiences. Previously she served as Director of First Year Experience and Student Engagement . Prior to joining SNHU, Tess worked at the Lean Enterprise Institute, educating lean implementation leaders across industries. Tess holds a Masters degree in Organizational Leadership and a Graduate Certificate in Leadership for Nonprofit Organizations from Southern New Hampshire University. She is in the process of earning her doctorate in Leadership and Learning in Organizations with Vanderbilt University.
Jo Montie, MA (she/her/hers) is an Online Learning Systems Facilitator with the University of St. Thomas STELAR St. Thomas E-Learning and Research team. Jo develops, in collaboration with others, systems of support for students and faculty in their digital learning experiences. Jo's teaching experience in special education, MA in Educational Psychology (University of Minnesota, 1996), and more than 25 years of teaching and work in schools has informed her current focus on learner-centered teaching and accessibility practices in the online environment. Twelve of these years were spent teaching at the university level, including six years of creating and teaching online and blended courses as well as extensive work with faculty and staff at facilitating online course and program development. Jo is grateful to the many colleagues and students who help her to further develop her beliefs and practices to support sustainable, quality digital learning practices that promote greater access and equity for all learners and advance the common good.
Lisa Burke is the director of the St. Thomas E-learning and Research (STELAR) group at the University of St. Thomas, Minnesota’s largest private university.

Extended Abstract

Orientation is a quintessential moment for residential students heading off to college. They are invited to tour campus, browse the book store, and maybe even enjoy a boxed lunch. But what about online learners?

Join Indiana University Online as it hosts Oregon State University, Southern New Hampshire University, and the University of St. Thomas in a lively, collaborative workshop (BYOD) on designing, building, and evaluating new online student success resources. Team exercises will guide participants to develop a plan to launch, redesign, or optimize their institution’s new student resources. Collaborative tools will be used to build a collective takeaway resource for all participants.

This workshop will progress through four key phases in project development via a series of guided team exercises. The four key phases are:

  1. Setting the Focus: Thinking about the students you serve can help you articulate goals and outcomes for your project. For example, how might a project supporting students in 100% online programs differ from a project supporting residential students taking an online course? This is a good time to think clearly about the needs of your online learners and to put yourself in their shoes as they navigate your institution and its version of online learning.

  2. Imaging the Experience: Goals and learning outcomes will guide experience design but so will other factors like budget, technology, team size, and policies. For example, how might hosting your project in the LMS instead of on a webpage impact when students are able to access resources? And how might that timing impact a hypothetical goal of supporting admit to enroll conversions? This is a good time to think clearly about how process, policy, and resource decisions can impact your vision for the new online student experience.

  3. Crafting the Value Proposition(s): Communicating the “value” of your experience is critical - and you may need to communicate it in different ways to different audiences. For example, an internal administrator might ask about a return on investment for the project in order to justify using time and money for the project. A student might ask “why do I need this?” Those questions may or may not be answered the same way. This is a good time to think clearly about how to effectively introduce the resources you envision for online learners and to make the case for why they are important.  

  4. Engaging with the Data: There are opportunities to engage with research and data at multiple points in the project development process. For example, you might consider admissions and SIS data when setting your focus. Learning analytics can shine light on how students are using (or not using) the information you provide. This is good time to think about developing and monitoring key performance indicates (KPIs) as well as a plan to react to what data might tell you.

The workshop will focus on each phase of project development for 30-40 minutes. A brief opening presentation will set the context for the upcoming team exercise - including the criteria for breaking into teams. Panel members will embed with each team to listen for key group takeaways and facilitate discussion as needed. Teams will work from guiding questions for each exercise but will be left with the flexibility and expectation to come up with their own unique solutions and conclusions. Team contributions will be added in real time to a shared collaborative document allowing each exercise to build on prior work accomplished in the workshop as well as to serve as a final takeaway resource. Each exercise will conclude with a moderated panel conversation on key insights the four institutions can can offer for each project phase.

Throughout the workshop all four institutions will share insights and examples from their work as well as key lessons learned (and yes - mistakes!). We will explain how we check student knowledge, discuss key performance indicators, and explain how real human interaction has a role in our services for online students. We will also share how we incorporate best practices for serving adult learners, Quality Matters design standards, and accessibility considerations in the instructional design process. Finally, we will preview future plans for our work in the area of new student success resources.  

By the end of the workshop, participants should be able to:

  • identify primary learner population(s) and articulate what goals and learning outcomes they have for those learners;

  • identify and evaluate key decision points in the experience design process and understand the potential impact of those designs decisions on the previously identified goals and learning outcomes;

  • differentiate value-based massaging for internal and external stakeholder groups and choose supporting qualitative and quantitative measures; and

  • understand how to apply research and data at different phases of the project and to identify key data stakeholders at their institutions.

These learning outcomes should empower participants to design or redesign new online student success resources at their institution.

All participants will benefit from bringing their own devices as the workshop will be paperless and utilize collaborative tools throughout. Session participants will be able to access sample student success resources from the participating institutions after the workshop; however, this workshop is not intended to be a showcase of a particular student success resource or institution’s programming. The workshop will (as much as possible) avoid focusing on a particular LMS or other technologies and instead focus on transferable strategies and tips.