Tomorrow’s Student: Driving Institutional Change from the Bottom Up
Concurrent Session 7
Without mandated training or consistent course templates for our faculty, students were often in shock when it came to navigating our online environment. It was small, department initiative until Institutional Research called to determine the cause behind some impressive statistics. This is an in-the-trenches perspective working to fight from the bottom rung of the ladder for institutional change.
What about the students?! It's too often that the responsibility is placed on faculty to both train their students in the use of the LMS and to integrate the learning management system into their course. It quickly became evident that each faculty member has a different approach, resulting in unique online learning spaces where design and implementation was out of our control. How do we reach this audience (essentially, the customers and consumers of Higher Education) while modeling best practice and top-notch courses for our faculty? Wait, let’s take it one step further, how can we engineer and innovate this traditional process to draw NEW students in or to encourage faculty to implement new tools? New variables are at play as we provide a critical tool to our admissions team. In addition to access for existing students, we provided a venue for prospective students to test drive the technology available before selecting an institution where they will spend their next few years pursuing a degree.
The need to offer an online student orientation to introduce students to this new environment was obvious but hindered by formal processes and policy to make it mandatory... If we build it…will they come? Well we did…and they did! I will share the options and formats available to ALL end users as well as the Institutional Research statistics that are helping me to identify various at-need audiences, gain stakeholder buy-in and push this initiative forward, as well as translate it into a new environment as I ventured into a new job opportunity.
The major motivation behind implementing a robust online student orientation was that it would provide students with an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the online environment before grades or a critical assignment was at stake. Too often, faculty would simply state: “Call the help desk.” Students have ample opportunities for engagement including sample content, assignments, forums, tests, and polls, BEFORE their grade depends on it.
In preparing their yearly report, Institutional Research partnered with Digital Education to investigate what was the cause behind a significant increase in satisfaction. While our overall satisfaction with our learning management system was 89%, the satisfaction rate for the iLearn orientation was 100%. Unfortunately, the orientation was only offered to students enrolling in their first online course in select campus programs, but this number was the push our office needed. Recent successes have included getting the right people around a table to get this resource both available and mandatory for incoming students. With a few hurdles ahead, I discuss the journey, timeline, and opinions including stakeholders, opportunity, and timing that have caused hiccups in implementing institutional change that has proven to be essential.
The presentation will include engagement options similar to that of our student orientation environment including access to a public version of my most recent designs.