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Blended and Video-Based Freshman Experience Program Improves Student Retention

Blended and Video-Based Freshman Experience Program Improves Student Retention

As part of their mission to improve student learning and to prepare for the rigorous accreditation review by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), Lander University developed a comprehensive Quality Enhancement Plan centered around an innovative first-year experience program, called the Leadership, Involvement, Networking and Knowledge (LINK) Program. The program helps students develop core academic, collaborative, organizational and social skills, creating a strong foundation for college success. Lander University relies on Echo360 as the key delivery platform for this program.  Echo360’s video learning and engagement tools are used to deliver the online portions of the course, while the Echo360 learner analytics support an early warning system that helps administrators and faculty to identify and intervene with students who may be at risk.

Overall, the retention rate of students who complete and pass the program is 71 percent, eight points higher than the university average. Students who earn an A or B in the program are retained at even higher levels – 82 percent.

“Retention is important for every university and it is something we take very seriously,” says Keith McCaslan, Instructional Technology Coordinator at Lander. “The LINK Program supports our retention goals as it helps us to introduce our students to the full-range of university services as well as connect them to the university as a whole,” he explains.

According to McCaslan, the more than 40 sections taught by faculty and university staff are utilizing lectures and presentations recorded using Echo360. The videos cover topics such as university services, information on financial aid, career and job placement services, and university history. Students can conveniently view the recordings online on their own time using their computers or mobile devices.

Analytics Help Support Early Student Intervention and Course Redesign

“We use Echo360 analytics in several ways,” says McCaslan. “For example, if the analytics show us that a student is not watching the videos at all, the analytics would allow us to implementan early alert system; this will allow the faculty to reach out and contact the student based on that alert and help the student get back on track.”

Analytics also provide a form of digital feedback to help faculty and staff redesign presentations and lecture content. By carefully monitoring how students watch and use the video recordings, administrators can determine if the content is difficult to understand or if a presentation is too lengthy.

“We look closely at how much of each recording our students watch,” says McCaslan. “If a lot of students watch only a portion of a video, it may indicate there is a problem with the content, or perhaps the video is too long. The analytics help us inform our instruction,” says McCaslan. “In the past, we would have had to rely on end-of-semester student surveys. But now, the analytics reveal student behaviors that are captured ‘in the moment’ and are available in real-time. The analytics give us the ability to redesign our programs based on actual student behavior and not a recollection a student has of something that might have happened weeks before.”

Expanding into Online Professional Development and Training

In addition to delivering the first-year experience program, Lander uses Echo360 to support IT-training for faculty and staff as well as other professional development and pedagogical training.

“I’m probably one of the biggest single users of the system,” says McCaslan. “I’m trained on Echo360, so why not use it to provide training to faculty and staff members?”

On average, McCaslan records approximately 20 hours of IT-related training each semester. “This is a huge time saver for me as I do not have to continuously schedule and reschedule training classes. I can record a class once and the post it online where it can be viewed many times.”

McCaslan notes that professional and pedagogical training provided by Lander’s Center of Online and Innovative Learning will also be available through Echo360.

“Faculty members are already pressed for time and cannot always attend face-to-face sessions. Now, the training that they need will all be available online via Echo360. We’re a small university and video-based training like this really helps us to maximize our resources.”

Contact us to learn more about how Echo360 can improve student success at your institution.