Support services for online students: 7 up and more to come
A new priority for the Office of Online Education (OOE) is developing seamless student services for students interested and enrolled in IU’s online programs. This is part of the vision for online education outlined in Moving Forward 2.0 and in Executive Vice President for University Academic Affairs John Applegate’s Collaborative Model for Online Education.
With funding from the distance education fee, OOE has established seven partnerships with three IU campuses to deliver an initial set of services that are critical to supporting online enrollment growth and student success. These services add to and adapt services currently provided by the campuses, University Student Services and Systems, or the university bursar to meet the needs of online students.
A call for new partnerships will be released over the summer. Watch for an announcement. Learn more about these services and see the status of their implementation.
Automated Undergraduate Prospect Messaging
Leveraging the university's implementation of Salesforce, OOE piloted in March an automated prospect communication plan for the Bachelor of Applied Science, a collaborative, multi-campus undergraduate degree program. After technical analysis and significant stakeholder engagement, the pilot was expanded to 110 programs. The new process includes a Salesforce-linked web form on the IU Online Website that loads prospective students directly into an appropriate communication “journey” based on their interest in a specific degree and campus they are likely to attend.
- Undergraduate degrees: five messages over eight days
- Graduate degrees: two messages over four days
- Certificates: two messages over four days
- Each email contains a call to action that links directly to the appropriate application page.
- Every prospect receives detailed information on FAFSA, financial aid, and financial planning resources within two days of expressing interest in IU Online.
- Each journey introduces students to a campus contact.
This improved process has allowed us to reduce the timespan from initial web form submission to start of targeted messaging, automate prospect rosters and dissemination of reports to the campus admissions offices, and increase the total number of engagements with prospective students. We can now ensure standard messaging that reinforces the IU Online brand for online programs offered across a multi-campus system, as well as more smoothly connect students with the appropriate home campus.
Using the power of analytics, we are reviewing open rates, click rates, and other metrics as we work to implement phase II of our prospect communication plan. The goal in phase II is to focus on building personalized relationships with online prospects.
Onboarding and Online Student Success
As a pilot in spring 2017, 314 newly admitted online students from IU East and IUPUI used OOE’s comprehensive orientation program. For fall 2017, the program is expanding to include newly admitted students from IU Kokomo, IU Northwest, IU South Bend, and IU Southeast. Orientation modules include "Getting Started," "Technology," "Academic Planning and Registration," "Finances," "Next Steps," "Graduation," "International Services," and "Get Connected."
IU Online success coaches invite students to participate within two weeks of admission, then make regular contact with new online students to assist with the transition back to college and/or to online classes. In addition to hosting student onboarding, coaches serve as conduits between students and other university service providers—including academic advisors and faculty members—to ensure students receive individualized support regardless of their ability to access a physical IU campus. With the support of their coach, students identify their purpose for earning a college degree and establish a development plan focused on future goals, including how to leverage university resources to meet those goals.
Anecdotal evidence from the online student success coaches, as well as student access data in Canvas, indicate that students use the orientation as a just-in-time resource—a place to find relevant information at key moments of the student’s experience with online learning. This has refocused development to reinvent the orientation as an onboarding portal. By moving away from a static orientation of linear, pre-programmed modules, OOE will create a flexible experience that allows students to select resources relevant to them at a particular point in time.
In August, OOE will open an onboarding catalog in Expand to allow other units across IU to have access to content housed inside the onboarding platform. This will allow faculty, programs, departments, and others to use these materials in their own courses and welcome programs. Available modules will include the following: getting started, technology, academic planning and registration, finances, student support, international services, next steps, graduation, and more.
- Both the math and writing support services experienced record utilization rates during the spring 2017 semester.
- Tuition and fee information has been catalogued for all online program offerings and will be added to the IU Online website in June 2017.
- Expanded content regarding student services will be added to the IU Online website in summer 2017.
- Information about available student services is located on the teaching online website and includes updates on service goals.