Live from ITC: Day 2 – 360 Student Services: Engaging the Online Student from Prospect to Degree

Sinclair Community College in Dayton, OH has created a model for fully online student services which begins when the student applies to the school and ends with their graduation from the institution.

SinclairOnline has 6000 online students with 13 fully online programs. Overwhelming growth in online enrollment (almost 100% in the past 5 years) and a reactive approach to student support services led to development of this new model. Realized that students were confused by the complex maze they had to navigate in order to get into school and be successful.

To create program, the broke down the process into 5 stage roadmap to success. Admissions, financial aid, advising, academic and personal resources, registration, and community building.

“An engaged student is a successful student.”. Engagement occurs both inside and outside of the classroom.

Other schools have faced similar issues and bottlenecks with Financial Aid, students understanding how to use the technology, getting students to work with advisors (f2f and online), and understanding the process. It’s critical that Divisions build internal relationships with one another and create a seamless environment for students.

Sinclair evaluated who their students were, and who were in the most critical need of assistance then established a 3 tier system beginning with students who have greatest needs (non-local students, at-risk students, students in Developmental courses, and First 30 students), moderate needs (any fully online students), and reduced level of needs (students taking online and f2f courses).

To serve the needs of ALL students, they broke down student population into subgroups based on specific needs and associated subgroups with specific tiers and created tools to address the individual needs.

Their SSP (Student Success Plan), which will be open source in 2012, allows for “coaches” to collect data (demographic, edu goals, life factors, etc.) students and create customized action plans for individual students. Action plan includes a list of challenges the student may have and provides action steps which students can take to conquer the challenge. Action steps are assigned due dates to encourage completion, Also, confidentiality level can be assigned to individual action steps so that sensitive student information is not freely available. Each event (meeting, email, etc.) is logged as a journal entry so that progress can be tracked and reviewed by other coaches (based on confidentiality level) and progress can be more accurately tracked. Additional information such as personality type, standardized test scores, unofficial transcripts, appeal forms, etc. can also be stored in the system. Robust reporting tool allows for immediate and comprehensive tracking of student progress, status, and goals. Academic companion to SSP is MAP Maker which allows development of proscriptive schedule so that students and coaches can see whether or not the student is on track.

Other tools and resources for students include SinclairOnline include Navigating SinclairOnline, which is an online orientation that includes a step-by-step process of how to do everything they’ll need to do, complete with an interactive checklist.

Additionally, the “How to Succeed in an Online Course” is a required free course for students who’ve never taken an online class that students can complete before they take their first class.
Takes between 1 and 3 hours to complete and is available and covers all the basics of how to access and use ANGEL, how online courses work, self-assessments which allow students to evaluate their readiness for the online classroom, and how to get and stay organized in and online course.

Upon completion of final course survey, certificate is created and record is made in college database so that student is allowed to register for online courses.

Project was a staff-led initiative, assembling ideas from other institutions, departments, and professionals to create a comprehensive model that works.

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