#ETOM16 and MCO Summer Retreat

The Educational Technology Organization of Michigan and Michigan Colleges Online join together every year for a summer retreat.  This #ETOM16/MCO Summer Retreat is focused on distance education and educational technology. This year more than 30 attendees from a variety of university and community colleges joined together to discuss research and good practice around supporting student success in online learning as well as the use of open educational resources.

Online Student Success – From Theory to Practice

How Do We Know?


Presenter: Bill Knapp, Chief Academic Technology Officer at Lakeland Community College
Session Links via Diigo

We will consider the research, literature, and evidence surrounding Online Student Success related to learner engagement, student satisfaction, retention, persistence, and student achievement (GPA). This highly interactive session will include presentations of research material and case studies interspersed with small group breakout session. Small groups will reflect on the research findings in an effort to identify what we know and what we think we know about (assumptions and beliefs) student success and online learning. The case studies will reflect innovative approaches to campus initiatives aimed a improving online student success and measuring learning outcomes.

Our presenter is Bill Knapp. Bill serves as the Chief Academic Technologies Officer at Lakeland Community College in northeast Ohio, where he oversees the Library, the Center for Learning Innovation, Technical Customer Services, and Distance Learning. Bill has over eighteen years of experience in supporting the campus community in learning technologies and distance learning. He has presented at national, regional, and state conference on a wide range of topics related to online teaching & learning.


  • Persistance – NCES uses retention as an institutional measure and persistence as a student measure. In other words institutions retain and students persist.

“Students are more likely to become committed to the institution and, therefore stay, when they come to undersand that the institution is committed to them.” – Vince Tinto

  • Tinto’s Model of Student Retention – Includes prior qualifications, individual attributes, family attributes as inputs, followed by goal and institutional commitment. The social and acdemic integration is important and key in preventing drop outs.
  • Student Persistence and Online Learning (Hart, 2012)
    • Sense of Belonging to a Learning Community
    • Student Motivation
    • Peer and Family Support
    • Time Management
    • Increased Communication with Instructor
  • Social Presence is key and the student is more likely to complete the course. – Gomez/Yen 2009
  • Measuring Social Presence
    • Social Context (informal)
    • Online Communication (meaningful)
    • Interactivity (responsive)
    • Online Privacy (confidential)
  • Community of Inquiry

    • Teaching Presence
    • Social Presence
    • Cognitive Presence
  • Faculty Involvement – Croxton (2014) “Online course interactivity, particularly between students and instructor, plays an important role in a student’s choice to persist in an online course.” <<< This is key for persistence.
  • The interactivity and student GPA. Online instructors tend to make minimal use of interactive technologies. The more interpersonal interaction the better the student GPA. Creating an Effective Online Instructor Presence – Community College Research Center
  • Virtual Office Hours – The average satisfaction in classes that offered virtual office hours was HIGHER than the classes without… (Pitts, 2009) It is important to at least offer them as the perception is that you are available as an instructor.
  • Early Alert LMS Analytics – Self-regulating learning in order of importance: regular study, late submissions, number of session logins, proof of reading course materials.
  • Open Textbooks and Learning Outcomes – Withdrawl rates: 21% using a commercial textbook and 6% with open textbooks. Credit load: Students in courses using OER enrolled in significantly higher number of credits the following semester.
  • Building a Culture of Inquiry – “It is up to us to take advantage of the research and data that is there to carry use forward.”
  • Grade, completion, and attrition rate comparison for online/hybrid/face to face classes are helpful to measure. These data can inform the knowing of the differences between face to face and online learning and if there are further questions to ask or areas to target to improve.
  • Innovative online orientations using video – research has shown that withdrawl rates were improved (withdraw rates were reduced) by 13%!
  • What would it look like if more universities and colleges implemented a mandatory online orientation before students could register for an online class.
  • Student support services are important for student success including embedded librarians, tutors, or student success center staff.
  • What could Lakeland do to help you be more successful in online courses?
    • Reliable Technology, Video, More Online Courses, Assignment Reminders, Consistency in Online Course Design/Navigation, Instructor Availability, Timely Feedback, Faculty Involvement, Online Testing,
  • More session resources:

ETOM Board Meeting around the Campfire at Center Lake


Michigan Colleges Online Update

Ronda Edwards, Executive Director for Michigan College ONline, will provide an update on MCO initiatives and issues around online learning – including SARA, HLC accreditation, group technology purchases, MCO OER repository, MCO professional development series for 2016-2017.


  • MCO Survey – Distance Education Survey Results
    • Online enrollments nationally up 4.7% and in Michigan down 3.7%. This is the first year that there has been a decline. Reasons seem to be around faculty contract and the offering of less sections. Some colleges also indicate higher HLC requirements for qualified instructors required some reduction.
    • Online programs nationally 92% offer at least 1 and in Michigan 75% offer online degrees. Enrollment tends to grow when you have a strategic direction of courses offered with online programs.
    • Course development, average length of time to develop is 3 to 6 months with an average number of 10 courses developed and 173 courses were developed newly.
    • 88% have mandatory training to teach online.
    • Re-certification of online teaching credentials is at 8%.
    • 75% of colleges have gone through HLC approval for courses and programs.
    • SARA – Currently 3 colleges completed the state application, 5 colleges have completed and submitted to the state, 5 colleges will seek individual state authorizations, 1 college seeking funds next year, 1 college approved, 7 colleges haven’t decided yet, 1 college does not register out-of-state students.
    • 50% of institutions use an internal quality standard followed by QM:
    • 58% of institutions report use of OER textbooks:
    • 33% of institutions use a team development model when developing an online course, with the average number of new online courses being created within the past at 9.6 courses.
    • Average length of time to develop an online course is 3-6 months at 67%
    • Greatest challenges reported include adequate assessment of DL courses followed by accessibility and budgets:
    • Faculty policies requiring response/interaction with students:
    • Required orientations:
  • Last week it was announced that the US Dept of Ed will push to finalize rule on state approval of online programs before the end of the year.
  • Michigan Colleges Online – OER Repository Initiative is now available in beta. The goal is to improve student success and completion, lower costs, inter-institutional faculty collaboration. Steering committee includes faculty, instructional designers, DE admins, and librarians.
  • OER activities have been underway with webinars, training, repository hub/group, publishing, adopting/adapting, grants for OER work, policy work, working with bookstores, and next tracking savings and evaluating success.
  • OER Commons has a variety of excellent webinars available on faculty and how they are using open resources.
  • MCO Collaborative Programs – MRI Technician Program includes: Kellogg, Lake Michigan, Mid-Michigan, GRCC, Lansing CC, and GVSU.
  • MCO Collaborative Purchases – Include: NetTutor, TechSmith (50% off), ZOOM, ReadSpeaker. ReadSpeaker is an accessibility tool and is offered 40% off. Next year, captioning, online testing, Camtasia Relay.
  • Professional development this year:
    • More OER Training
    • Online Remedial Math
    • Competency Based Courses
    • Authentication Options (Currently only required to have a unique password/account.)
    • Pell Grant Fraud
    • Authentic Assesment
    • Net Tutor
    • Instructor Review
    • Program Review
    • Gamification
  • Help Desk Initiative – Working on a 24×7 model with Kirtland, KVCC, LMC, NCMC, Mott via Black Belt Help. This is used to augment what you already have.
  • MCO Guided Digital Pathway Tool – Provides a student success strategy that provides a tech solution which crosses institutional silos and connects with all students. Explore options for college, scheduling tool, advisors/mentors communication tool. Students can use the pathways tool to explore career interest, explore majors and programs at the college, take free assessments for personality, learning preferences, ready for online, etc., financial planning, connect with college and develop a plan, maintain connections with college throughout academic career.

Setting up Your Own OER Initiative

During this presentation, Nicole Finkbeiner, Associate Director of Institutional Relations at OpenStax, will utilize her experience working with colleges and universities across the country to outline the key components of a successful OER initiative. She’ll cover key metrics, real-world examples of successful strategies, and suggestions on how to adapt an OER initiative to your specific budget and campus culture. Nicole will also preview the new OpenStax authoring tool that makes it easy for faculty to customize their textbooks, and the new initiative with bookstores.


  • Measure Outcomes not Actions
    • Number of faculty using OER
    • Number of students using OER
    • Amount of savings for students (Average is $98 per student savings)
    • Student Success (grades, completion, etc.)
  • Actions that contribute to, but don’t equal success
    • Holding a meeting
    • Having a workshop
  • Report sample for OpenStax uses:
    • 859 students using OpenStax books saving $84,000
    • 2.5% of the students are using OpenStax in this example so that impact can be much larger
  • Focus on Scale “How many students will be impacted by OER”
    • Key to transformative change
    • Focus on high-enrollment courses
  • Start with easy wins to impact students now!
  • We = not me – there really needs to be a designated leader and a champion.
  • Have a leader but include: faculty, admin, librarians, instructional support, bookstore, students, …everyone!
  • Successful initiatives take several approaches simultaneously.
  • Implementation Strategies:
    • Expressed support from administration – eg. email from Provost as to the recommendation and adoption of the initiative.
    • Presentations during department meetings
    • Ask faculty directly to try the OpenStax books in a pilot
    • Promote “Textbook Heroes” and ask them to promote OER
    • Hold faculty workshops and offer a stipend for evaluating and reviewing OER resources
    • Provide an OER grant program (orientation day, measurable outcomes, efficacy studies) and easy wins are looking at OpenStax high enrolled courses with adoptions at scale.
    • Connect work to faculty tenure or promotion
    • Involve students – student government, student newspapers
    • Include a search filter for OER classes in your SIS ($40 low cost/no cost courses).
  • Writing OER
    • Start with adopting current textbooks as OpenStax texts (or other such as Saylor)
    • Reinventing the wheel is time consuming and costly vs finding existing resources
    • Independent peer review is critical for scale, other institutions to adopt
    • Check with OER groups firs to see if another project is underway
  • Modifying OER
    • Most faculty say they want to modify OER, but few actually do
    • Modifying OER can increase print copy costs, ability to sell used copies
    • Check licenses carefully
  • OpenStax CNX
    • Can be used to custom and publish open education resources.
  • Custom Print Options via accesyourtextbook.com
    • Can be used to create a custom print version of an OpenStax textbook.

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