Keeping students on course

Although I am very closely involved in the development of all our courses, we have so many now that I can no longer follow them as closely as I used to when they finally go live. The course stops being the thing that the author, project manager, web developers, and I (as learning technologist) have laboured over and becomes something that is owned by the tutor (often, but not always, the author) and the students.

As an external observer you can dip in and get a sense of how things are progressing but it is not the same as visiting a course every day, getting to know everyone, and really being part of the course experience.

Unsurprisingly it sometimes feels odd guiding people in creating effective online learning when my “hands on” involvement is so much less than it has been in the past, so I am reduced to getting my affirmation that we are on the right track in other ways. Evaluation forms are always interesting reading (and we do monitor these very closely) but recently we got some very gratifying hard statistics that I had not personally seen before.

In continuing education funding is often predicated on the mysterious completion rates – i.e. it is not just the students who start your course but those who finish who are important to HEFCE….especially hard for us in our fully online courses (an area where completion rates can be VERY low) .

So to the meat – we got the latest stats and we are averaging a 91% completion rate, even more amazing is that this is higher than the face to face rate of about 85%.

Designing courses to encourage completion is something we have given a lot of thought to over the years and we have devoted a lot of our learning design energy in creating learning and assessment in such a way to keep students on-board and motivated. It seems that in 91% of cases it is paying off….

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