With more persons learning online, supporting learner readiness is more important than ever. As several institutions' are still finding their enrollment numbers down from previous years, many students who are enrolled are learning online when it was not originally their first choice. 

In this pre-recorded, on-demand SmarterMeasure Spotlight webinar, you will hear from members of Daytona State College, El Paso Community College, and Shoreline Community College about how they have been measuring and responding to online learner readiness during this time through using SmarterMeasure.

This webinar will also cover: 

  • How the institutions positioned the SmarterMeasure assessment in the student experience.
  • How the institutions followed up with their students regarding their results.
  • And how the institutions analyzed the data to identify actionable trends among their students.

Watch the pre-recorded webinar below or continue scrolling to read the webinar summary blog. 

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Webinar Summary:

Key Takeaways from Kara Parkes, Online Retention Coordinator at Daytona State College (DSC)

Back in 2017, faculty at DSC identified a lack of online readiness in their students. It was revealed that students were unclear about expectations for success. So the college began the work to determine how to fill the gap. In 2018, their Online Studies department worked with their Academic Advising department to develop a student online readiness initiative.

DSC paired down a Penn State assessment to 20 intake questions and utilized it in conjunction with a student's orientation process. Parkes specifically worked with students going through the data and their new student orientation to help them better prepare for success. The assessment covered a multitude of areas related to online readiness including open access, technology comfortability, troubleshooting, time management, learning styles and preferences, how willing students are to reach out for help, and an open-ended question to determine why a student is taking online classes. 

"Access is a really big issue for our students, we are primarily Pell-Eligible, higher need – and we wanted to make sure that we asked those sorts of questions," Parkes explained. "We want to know how to support our students and what to provide."

DSC received a LENS (Learner Engagement, Navigation, and Support) Grant at the end of 2019, which is meant to increase retention and graduation rates of first-time-in-college (FTIC) students in associate degree programs.

Armed with 5 years and several million dollars, DSC's strategy was to enhance online instruction and support to increase student engagement and success. The initiatives formed out of the LENS Grant also provided some assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic, because they were heavily focused on supporting students, particularly online.

The grant also covered a limited number of SmarterMeasure assessments that could be administered to 1,000 students per year. And as the college began implementing the initiatives and figuring out which students to provide access to SmarterMeasure – eventually faculty created the Online Success Seminar, which was meant to help students who really struggled with online instruction. 

In their current program, students are selected for the 1,000 slots through two options: 1) Either by meeting the pre-determined criteria (taking classes fully online, degree-seeking, meet 3 or more markers of predicted non-persistence to next term) or 2) By electing to enroll (usually for self-improvement purposes or reports of nerves/anxiety about online classes and/or referred by faculty or staff member). Students who fell into either category were prioritized for the Online Success Seminar resources. 

The seminar is a 3-hour time commitment from students, is fully online, and is student-driven. Components include SmarterMeasure Learner Readiness Indicator, engaging activities, and reflective practices. The seminar is accessible on various formats, including computers, tablets, and even smartphones.

After students complete the seminar, the results of pre and post-surveys are evaluated to determine students average readiness by section or standard deviation, how students are using their new skill sets to secure resources and assistance for themselves, and utilizing the learning styles multiple intelligences from SmarterMeasure to bridge the gap for faculty and the different ways they can design the content. 

Key Takeaways from Luz Cadena, Interim Director of eLearning Support at El Paso Community College (EPCC)

EPCC incorporates SmarterMeasure into various areas of the institution, according to Cadena. SmarterMeasure can sometimes be part of the college's recruitment tools and has been utilized on the EPCC's distance learning website as well. 

"The preface is if you're considering taking online courses at EPCC, take SmarterMeasure," Cadena explained. The college hopes that SmarterMeasure will help students make informed decisions. 

Typically, students registering for online courses, as well as dual credit/dual-enrolled students, and those attending new student orientation received an online learning informational brochure and/or postcard in the mail. It detailed some information about online learning and SmarterMeasure, specifically how SmarterMeasure can help students. The pandemic put a pause on mailing out the postcards, so EPCC took the time to design an online learning handbook – which allowed for more information and content than the previous versions of the brochures and postcards. EPCC made sure that any division of the institution where questions about online learning could arise had access to the online brochure, including the Library, the Center for Students with Disabilities, and even Financial Aid. The college also sent out a link to the virtual brochure to all students for their consideration. 

For some at EPCC, SmarterMeasure is required. Cadena explained there are specific courses that have incorporated SmarterMeasure into their class framework and that is a major selling point for EPCC. Faculty shares what they do in their courses and Cadena said SmarterMeasure has been a very useful tool for the Distance Learning Department in helping to drive student success. 

As EPCC transitions from Blackboard Learn Original to Blackboard Learn Ultra, faculty members are required to go through training and EPCC is taking the opportunity to train faculty and staff on further incorporating SmarterMeasure. Through this particular training, faculty are required to assess themselves on two different elements in order to gain a deeper perspective, and reflect on the findings, just as students do.

When SmarterMeasure assessments are utilized, EPCC has found that they are very effective. Students can use the results to help them reflect on their unique needs and create academic plans to map out where they want to improve. Faculty also utilize SmarterMeasure by developing their own lessons based on results and subsequent follow-up. 

The main takeaway is that EPCC utilizes SmarterMeasure in a variety of the college's approaches. SmarterMeasure is positioned in several places, including where the assessments are optional and required. 


Key Takeaways from Brandon Fryman, Instructional Designer at Shoreline Community College (SCC)

SCC utilizes SmarterMeasure to bridge some of its obligation gaps and fit the unique needs of its students. SCC starting using SmarterMeasure in 2015 and created an institute on-campus that trains faculty how to use Canvas in an online environment, building an entire class and assignment off of SmarterMeasure and its resources. 

SmarterMeasure has always been optional for faculty to use for their students and SCC allowed faculty to edit that assignment in any way they want if they chose to use it. SCC also prompts advisors to use SmarterMeasure. Students were always able to access SmarterMeasure through SCC's eLearning web page, as it is available if they want to complete the assessment all on their own.  

Now that SCC is in an online environment, they now require all new students to take the SmarterMeasure assignment they've created, called Getting Ready for Online Learning. Fryman explained that SCC is not attempting to draw causality or causation, but using the data in an exploratory way to see what kind of needs students have and how to bridge the gaps. As of Spring 2020, SmarterMeasure is mandatory for all new SCC students.

Getting Ready for Online Learning is a Canvas program with five modules. The first focuses on SmarterMeasure, the second module teaches students how to use Canvas, and the other three modules provide various campus resources. Through the SmarterMeasure assignment, students are asked two open-ended questions that help guide SCC's efforts in getting grants and resources that bridge technology and typing issues, access to tutors, and other tools that would help students succeed. 

SCC makes it a point to review which students complete SmarterMeasure and which students do not. SCC determined through the data that students who take the SmarterMeasure assessment tend to have higher GPAs than students who do not and this has prompted SCC to push more students to take the SmarterMeasure class for higher chances of success while enrolled. 

Let's Continue Learning! 

If you would like to learn more about how SmarterMeasure can help your institution enhance your online student support efforts, click here to schedule a short demo with us or watch the rest of the pre-recorded webinar below. 

For more information about SmarterMeasure, check out the following resources to continue learning:


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