Student Success

Supporting Student Success and Retention via eLearning at GVSU

commencement_fall2017-1943Student success is a strategic area of focus at GVSU. With the rising costs of higher education, and the value of employability after graduation, student retention plays a key role in our vision and mission. eLearning and Emerging Technologies supports student success through a variety of technologies and faculty support.

Blackboard Supports Student Retention

For faculty there are many opportunities to leverage Blackboard to help support student success. Here are some capabilities:

  • Gradebook and Assignment Tools – Provides faculty with the ability to post grades and timely assessment/assignment/journal feedback. Interactive rubrics provide students with assignment grading criteria.
  • Student Photo Roster – Faculty can more effectively and efficiently learn students’ names and personalize instruction.
  • Retention Center and Performance Dashboard – Enables faculty to monitor frequency of logins of students, participation in discussions, and grades. This includes last login/date access to the course.
  • Blackboard Collaborate Ultra – Real-time and live office hours for students unable to attend class or office hours. Helps build rapport and increases communication and instructor-student engagement.
  • Surveys – Used by faculty to gather information about the students’ experience in the course such as a mid-term “how is this course going” survey.
  • Announcements, Emails, and Discussion Board – Used to create an online learning community and open up communication.
  • Content – Benefits to students to provide easy access to course materials, even potentially before the class begins. Provides access to link students to open educational resources (OER) and no-cost or low cost resources.
  • Panopto – Ability to record and post lectures or instructional content and easily embed digital media into Blackboard.
  • Blackboard Ally – Helps faculty ensure accessibility of course materials while also supporting universal design for learning (UDL).

eLearning and Emerging Technologies Supports Student Retention

  • Consultations, Seminars and Drop-Ins – The eLearning team provides opportunities to work with faculty to build up their skills in best using technology effectively and efficiently. Including pedagogical support for flipped classroom design and other instructional models.
  • Foundations of Online/Hybrid Course Development – Providing support and training to faculty about how to best design and deliver an online/hybrid course.
  • FTLC Faculty Learning Communities – eLearning instructional designers help facilitate 3 faculty learning communities on topics such as student engagement, quality online courses, and more.
  • Blackboard Support –  Support is offered to faculty in collaboration with the IT HelpDesk.
  • Embedded Librarians – All liaison librarians have been certified through the Foundations course and they have been enrolled in over 200 Blackboard courses providing direct student support.
  • Digital Studio – Providing faculty with engaging multimedia and digital resources such as the Lightboard, and tools such as Panopto.
  • Technology Showcase – Enables faculty to evaluate emerging technologies that can be leveraged to transform teaching and learning.
  • GA’s – Graduate Assistants work to support faculty and students the team in responding to 1,800 faculty technical support needs related to Blackboard and other technologies.
  • Web Resources – eLearning offers a series of support pages to provide information to faculty regarding how best to leverage educational technologies.
  • Student Support – In addition to the IT HelpDesk, our GA’s and eLearning team provides tech support to students.  This includes some class visitations and student orientations.

New Initiatives Supporting Student Retention

  • OER – Open Education Resources Initiative is working to provide options for student textbook affordability.  OpenStax has been adopted by CHM115 and 116 saving nearly $150,000 for students in textbook fees.
  • Attendance and Learning Analytics – Research and evaluation of a new products and solutions such as Qwickly Attendance and Blackboard called Predict which provides student dashboards and predictors of success that can be used by advisors and faculty.
  • Accessibility and UDL – eLearning is implementing a new product from Blackboard called Ally which provides a dashboard view of the number of accessible courses and realtime auto-conversion of documents into accessible formats. In addition, Panopto is being implemented to support enterprise video. This solution enables faculty to auto-caption and edit their captions for digital video resources used in their classes.

Benchmarking & Research Supporting Student Retention

  • ECAR Study – GVSU participated in the 2015 Educause Center for Analysis and Research Student and Faculty Technology Survey.  These results have been shared and have been used in strategic planning and for seminar planning.
  • Blackboard Survey – Working with Susan Mendoza and John Grabrosek, eLearning worked with students from STA 319 in the development, deployment, and evaluation of results from a student and faculty survey around how we can improve and enhance the Blackboard environment.

Learn more and connect with the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team at Grand Valley State University

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6 Small Things You Can Do To Have a BIG Impact on Student Learning

This post is brought to you by the Online Education Council, eLearning and Emerging Technologies, University Libraries, the Pew Faculty Teaching & Learning Center, and the Office of the Provost.

When teaching online and hybrid courses, there are a variety of key strategies that are proven to help students succeed. This blog post highlights 6 tips for success.

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6 Small Things that you can do that have a BIG Impact on Student Learning

  1. Ensure students have the appropriate orientation and support to use the technology in your course.

    Be sure to welcome your students and orient them to your course. You can do this via email, announcements, or a brief video.
    Flipgrid can be an effective tool to use as an icebreaker for students to get to know one another and to feel like part of a learning community. 

    To help students assess their preparation on the online/hybrid learning experience, you may wish to assign your students the online self-assessment. In an easy-to-find location, provide students direct links to resources such as the Blackboard student support, GVSU IT HelpDesk, and other relevant student support services.

  2. Publish your syllabus to your Blackboard site and open the course to students a week or two before the semester begins. 

    Research indicates that students benefit when given time to prepare and assess the course expectations ahead of time, so any extra time you give students to assess their readiness for the course and get into the mindset for online or hybrid learning is useful.
    Upload your syllabus to the course before the semester begins and email students an invitation to peruse it. If you are someone who is still building your Blackboard site up to the last minute, consider emailing your syllabus directly to students and letting them know when the course site will be ready for them to explore. 

  3. Focus on student success and retention with Blackboard tools. 

    Maximize student retention by proactively contacting inactive students, students with missing deadlines, or poor performance. The Blackboard Grade Center shows the date of last course access for students. The Retention Center,  Performance Dashboard and Item Statistics provide faculty with information about student activity as well as the ability to monitor students at-risk. Use these tools to determine whether any students in your class are falling behind or neglecting to check Blackboard regularly. Intervene early on, so they get back on track quickly.

  4. Establish a simple course menu and use consistent formatting & organization.

    Review your course from the viewpoint of a student. Is information clearly labeled by its function and easy to find? In addition to using consistent formatting and terminology, consider adding features such as Blackboard assignment due dates, guideposts, assignment checklists, multiple representations of essential information (reading assignments listed in the syllabus as well as in a course calendar), and introductory text or audio overviews with each folder/module.
    Will it be crystal clear to students when assignments are due? Which readings are required or optional? How much time should students expect to spend on a quiz or project? Ensuring this information is easy to find and clearly stated will go a long way toward helping students stay on track.
  5. Provide timely feedback on student work. 

    Students need (and want!) to know how they’re doing throughout the semester, so your timely feedback on assignments, discussions, and course activities is essential. And each time you provide feedback to students, you make your presence known–key to making students feel connected to your course and supported in their work.

    As you craft assignments, consider the frequency of and methods by which you’ll provide feedback to students’ work. Try audio recording feedback to students’ writing, or giving formative, brief feedback more frequently during an assignment to encourage students’ reflection and learning.

    Establish a goal of responding to students’ inquiries or activities on Blackboard within 24 hours Monday – Friday, or on Mondays for activities students may complete over the weekend.

  6. Create opportunities for students to develop mastery.

    Discussion threads are a popular component of Blackboard courses, but an online conversation is just one of many ways you can help students demonstrate knowledge or practice skills.
    Think beyond the discussion forum: given your course content, how might you build in multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate knowledge or mastery of a skill across a variety of activities? How will you reinforce skills or knowledge learned in one portion of the course in a future activity? What short assignments might you ask students to engage in and post for quick feedback?

Want More Info? Need Help? Try These Resources!

  • Consult with the instructional designers in IDeL for more online/hybrid course design tips and to learn how to increase your teaching, social, cognitive presence through the Community of Inquiry.
  • Access tips, tutorials, and information for effectively using Blackboard.
  • Review the one-stop Faculty Resources for Online Education.
  • Contact the Digital Studio for assistance in creating a welcome video or leveraging interactive media in your courses.
  • Review University Library resources for distance learning.