Leading Innovative Conversations on Online Student Support Services

Concurrent Session 2

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Brief Abstract

Online student support is a cross-institutional endeavor requiring complex conversations.  The Online Student Support Scorecard assists institutions in starting those conversations. During this session we’ll have our own conversation around critical services for online students. We’ll find common ground and identify strategies to help us all better serve students.

Presenters

Josh began serving online students and faculty in 1998, as the first distance learning help desk employee at the College of Central Florida. He has experienced the pains associated with the growth of online learning from the administrative, as well as the student perspective. He has served as his college's representative to the Members Council for Distance Learning and Student Support, of the Florida Virtual Campus, since 2010 and is currently serving as chair. This combination of student, administrative and policy experience services him well, as he seeks to continually improve the learning experience for online students.
Dr. Victoria Brown is the Assistant Provost for eLearning at Florida Atlantic University. She oversees instructional technology, including training, supporting, and assisting faculty and staff who utilize eLearning, as well as managing the day-to-day operations at the Center for eLearning. Dr. Brown also has twenty years of experience teaching instructional technology for educators and business trainers and managed instructional design teams. She received her bachelors and masters degrees from Central Missouri State University and her doctorate from the University of West Florida.

Extended Abstract

Whether an institution uses a centralized or decentralized approach to distance learning administration, the endeavor to deliver quality student services to a dispersed population requires cooperation from across the institution.

Engaging students through student services is valuable when considering quality of distance education. Through the student services, students should be able to access the equivalent support services that allow them to be successful academically and reduce the feeling of isolation. As post-secondary institutions exploring ways to differentiate their brand and to address how to support students in other states, the services required for students may need to be delivered in alternative ways. More students also are beginning their academic career 100% online. Institutions are developing an interest in how to create an online experience that can extend the campus experiences to the online students. By building connections with the institution through online services, students begin to feel as if they belong to the larger student population.

During our conversation with you, we will share our observation about improving online student support over the past two years since the development and implementation of the OLC Online Student Support Scorecard.  The research team is interested in gathering your input to improve future versions. 

The Scorecard is usefully in several different ways. The Scorecard allows the institution to self-evaluate the availability and the quality of the services provide to the online students. The institutions utilize the data provided by the Scorecard to improve services in various ways. The Florida University System also used the overall results to explore possibilities to combined statewide services. Finally, the Scorecard was helpful for regional accrediting reviews as a demonstration of the institution self-evaluating and documentation of improvement over time.

The origin for the Online Student Support Scorecard was in the 2025 Online Education Strategic Plan developed by the Florida State University System through the support of the Innovation and Online Committee at the Florida Broad of Governors. That plan identified three areas of emphasis to increase online courses and degrees in the state. As the online presence grew, the state was interested in address three areas: (a) quality, (b) affordability, and (c) access. To improve the quality of distance learning, two of the tactics where included to promote high quality student support services. Other quality tactics addressed the quality of course development and availability of professional development. The first tactic for student support was to develop a scorecard to measure the presence and quality of online student support services. The second tactic was to provide best strategies in providing support for online students. With the Online Education Plan as the springboard, the universities and colleges in Florida combined resources to develop the scorecard. Within the group were experts from student support service units across Florida brainstormed what was important for online students to access and how to define access.  The scorecard has now become part of the OLC suite of scorecards and this is one of the ways that the OLC community can be involved in its future.