Creating Innovative Online Student Support Services

Concurrent Session 5
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

Online student support is a cross-institutional endeavor, benefiting all students.  The Online Student Support Scorecard helps institutions identify areas needing improvement. During this session you’ll learn about the scorecard and reflect on areas of critical need. We’ll find common ground and discuss 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

The OLC Quality Online Student Services Scorecard was developed to help institutions take an introspective look at the services being offered to students across the institution.  It follows the life-cycle of the student from before admission, until graduation.  It has been proven to start useful conversations, leading to improved services for all students, not only those who are fully online.

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.

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.

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.

During our time with you, we will give you an overview of how you can use the scorecard to find areas of opportunity for improvement at your institution.  We will share our observations about improving online student support over the past two years since the development and implementation of the OLC Quality Online Student Support Scorecard.  We’ll then give you a few minutes to submit the areas you believe to be top priorities for improvement, via your mobile device.  You can also use this reflection time to submit anything you think we should add to the scorecard. We’ll rank those areas and items and discuss them as a group.  The research team is interested in gathering your input to improve future versions. 

The discussion will be fast paced with only a short time being focused on each of the top items submitted during the reflection time.  The two facilitators will be the primary scorecard developers, who will be available to guide the discussion.  Participants will be pointed to presentation materials by scanning a QR code.  Other mobile interactive technologies will allow for input from attendees to be captured, displayed and used as the discussion evolves.