As an increasing number of colleges and universities identify online education as a critical component to their long-term strategy, the issue of retention can no longer be ignored. It is mandatory for everyone who touches the distance learner to understand why these students leave their online courses, and what it will take to keep them there.
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online course retention
o certain personality traits increase students’ chances of success in the online learning environment? It’s an intriguing question that has not received much attention, an oversight that Ben Meredith, director of the Center for Distance Education at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, has sought to remedy.
Student retention is an ongoing challenge to online educators. While there is great variation in retention rates across programs and institutions, online retention rates tend to be significantly lower than those in the face-to-face environment. However, not all online educators struggle with student retention. Kari Frisch, a communications professor at Central Lakes College, has consistent retention rates of around 95 percent in her online courses, which include interpersonal communication, intercultural communication, mass communication, and online social networking. In an interview with Online Classroom, Frisch talked about the factors that she believes help her achieve such high retention rates.
Online student retention is one of the most critical components for the success of any college or university. The key to a successful online retention program is the realization that student retention is everybody’s job.
Despite the tremendous growth of online education programs, student retention for online courses remains problematic. The attrition rate from online universities is often cited as 20% to 50% (Diaz, 2002). Studies also reveal that attrition from online programs can be as high as 70% to 80% (Dagger, Wade & Conlan, 2004).
Despite all the high-tech communication technologies available to online instructors today — discussion boards, email, IM, wikis, podcasts, blogs, vlogs, etc. — every once in awhile Dr. B. Jean Mandernach likes to use a tool that was invented way back in 1876. The telephone.
If you’re looking to improve threaded discussions in your online courses, consider using brief video clips as discussion prompts. When carefully selected and integrated into a course, these clips can lead students to higher-order thinking and appeal to auditory and visual learning styles.
In asynchronous discussion forums, participants usually come from diverse backgrounds, including gender and culture, and the textual cues they post online are usually reflections of their own diversity. How you handle equity and diversity issues can be a key to online course retention.