Online Student Services, How Small Institutions Got Creative in the Covid-19 Era
Concurrent Session 4
Research, using OLC’s Online Student Services Scorecard, indicates that size and funding of an institution are indicators of service level. In the Covid-19 era, smaller institutions found creative ways to improve service. Join us to exchange ideas about better serving our students through this time and brainstorm for the future.
Institutions have been using the OLC Online Student Services Scorecard for several years now. Research on early results indicated that larger, better funded, institutions were able to offer more complete student services as a matter of course. Services such as counseling, student life and veterans’ services were just three areas that state funded colleges (two-year and four year institutions) scored lower on than universities. Other services, such as the online library materials, are available at most small colleges in Florida through collaborative models.
With most institutions being forced to move operations fully online in March 2020, these small institutions were also forced to offer online student services that they likely never had in the past. We have often said that services for online students are services for all students. This transition to online learning made all students online students.
In this conversation, a brief introduction to the OLC Online Student Services Scorecard will be provided. We will introduce you to several areas where smaller institutions scored relatively lower in a statewide study of Florida Institutions. You will have an opportunity to share how your institution was able to provide those services during the transition to fully online learning and to brainstorm ideas with others facing similar challenges.
The second part of the discussion will explore how to maintain online support services beyond the Covid-19 Pandemic . Many of our institutions turned to the CARES Act or reserve funding to provide these much need online services. While it will be in the institutions’, and students’, best interests for those services to be continued, the sources that funded them are non-recurring. Although it is unknown what the world will look like post-pandemic, we know there will be some amount of lasting change. We will move forward with new perspectives and ideas for operating businesses and obtaining an education. In the post-pandemic world, many believe instructors are going to be open to teaching online and students more likely to seek online education. Maintaining some level of online services may be the future of higher education institutions. Through open discussion, ideas for how to continue supporting the growing online population of student as higher education institutions continue to respond to a world changed by the Covid-19 pandemic.