I returned on Friday from the Pearson Learning Summit in Phoenix, AZ. It was a great 2 days of networking, idea sharing, and higher education professionals working hard to provide the best opportunities for their students. I love being around a group of enthusiastic people ready to work. I connected with several faculty from other private colleges and universities, we share a common goal to educate a similar type of student and were able to discuss challenges and successes with these students.
I presented, with my colleague, Shawn Ulwelling, on a live lecture series approach to increasing online student engagement. Through a weekly online lecture series (same lecture offered 25 times a week for 650 students), a required synchronous learning session was added to online Medical Terminology courses at Rasmussen. We noticed an increase in student success through improvements in course averages and higher retention. The presentation focused on student feedback, methods used to create this learning opportunity, strategies for implementation, and plans for expansion.
At Rasmussen College, we are providing opportunities for our online students to attend synchronous learning sessions on a weekly basis in a few of our Q1/Q2 courses. As a new thought in our online programs, requiring the students to attend a synchronous class session, in addition to awarding credit for attendance, offers them an opportunity to interact with various faculty teaching the course, as well as their classmates from across the system. We are using a lecture series approach by offering a group of sessions throughout the week taught by highly qualified Rasmussen faculty. Students are able to select a time that best suits their schedule, as sessions are offered 7 days a week, morning, afternoon and evening.
This initiative started with Medical Terminology and Computer Applications, as high enrollment courses with varying success rates for students. With the great success of these two projects, we are now rolling out the required live lecture component to other courses in a two-phased approach. The goal is to pilot the project in a small sample of sections within a given course, and then, as we learn the best methods for instruction and further design an engaging live lecture, we’ll then roll out the lectures to the entire group of sections.
The success thus far is demonstrated by an improvement in student retention and student success rates in these courses. The response from students attending the sessions has been extremely positive as well. They use words like ‘interaction’ and ‘engagement’ to describe the experience. They are finding value in the live lecture through discussions with classmates and enhanced instructional opportunities with faculty teaching the course. The ability to have questions answered and receive guided instruction on specific assignments and course material provides them the tools they need to be successful when working independently on their coursework. As one of the faculty delivering live lectures and leading the initiative across the College, I get a lot of questions about whether or not these live lectures are offered in other online courses. There is a desire amongst the online student population for live interaction and Rasmussen is working to increase those opportunities for students.
A ‘blended learning’ approach to course delivery is becoming more mainstream now in higher education as opposed to a new idea. Varying learning opportunities for students, especially those in the online modality, will keep them engaged in the course and improve their retention and attrition, as well as their overall satisfaction with their education experience. I shared materials for creating an initial plan to utilize this blended learning approach in one of their online courses with varying success rates.
Attached are links to the materials from the session shared using SlideShare.Net —
Feel free to use and adapt these materials to suit your needs. I just ask that you share how the process works for you, I’d love to learn what you are having success with.
Any other conferences coming up that you’ve attended in the past? I’m looking to learn more about how hybrid learning strategies are working for others and the types of strategies they are working through.
Until next time, have a great week — May Day is tomorrow!