Tips and Tricks for Online Engagement & Retention

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Tips and Tricks For Online Engagement & Retention!

Roane State Community College 2012

Kari FrischCommunication Instructor, Central Lakes College in Brainerd, MN Email: kfrisch@clcmn.eduTwitter: kfrischYouTube: mnkaleidoscope


THE TEN TIPS IM GOING TO SHARE:Work for me.May not all work for you.Might not all work for your discipline.


Hopefully, youll still get at least one gem that will work for you and your discipline. Here we go!

#1 Classmate Questions Student-created Post one weekly if possible

This helps foster a sense of community.*

QUESTIONS FOR CLASSMATESWeek 1:I usually start with two, 2-part questions, listed as Karis week 1 questions, one set per forum:Question Set #1

Part A)Where do you consider yourself from and why? Part B)What are you going to school to study? Question Set #2

Part A)How many online classes have you taken before?Part B)If you have had one or more online classes before, what advice might you give someone taking an online class for the very first time? If this is your first online class, what do you think you need to do differently in order to be successful in this online learning environment?


Here are some examples of past questions from students for students.

General questions:

If you could own a non-traditional pet, what would it be?

If you had the chance to do anything in the world what would that one thing be and why?

If you could change any one thing about the way society is today; what would it be and why?

If you could meet any fictional character, who would it be and why?

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you bring with you and why?

What, if anything, would you do differently with your life if you won the lottery today?

Here are some course specific examples I thought were fun:

Mass Communication Where do you go to get your news and is the internet helping or hurting news media?What movie has had the most impact on your life? Explain your answer.

Intercultural Communication What language would you want to learn to speak fluently and why that one over all others?Choose one country youd like to visit and one person (living or dead) from that country that you would like to be your tour guide and explain why you chose as you did.If you were visiting the country of your choice, would you rather remain in familiar, "Americanized" resorts or would you prefer to stay/travel with a local from that country? Why?

Interpersonal Communication What is the biggest difference between distant learning and in class learning?How do you feel about talking in front of people you dont know?

Online Social Networking What is your favorite Facebook game and how often per day, week, or month do you spend on it?What effect do you think texting has had on other forms of communication?

#2 Weekly NotesTWO PARTS:Top portion: Notes for all Classes Bottom portion: Class Specific Notes

This helps develop a sense of immediacy, helps tie weeks content together, gets out other important information. Students know Im in real time with them.

Examples of note points:Words of encouragementReminders about policiesTips on LMS (collapsible content)Further explanation of difficult chapter conceptsHeads up about unusual assignments or special needs for the futureSchool notices that weve been asked to pass on (financial aid pickup, college surveys, graduation info, etc.)Assignment clarification/directions/examples

Examples of notes:Notes Example #1 Interpersonal

Notes Example #2 Mass Comm

Notes Example #3 Intercultural

#3 Assignment SchedulesTABLE FORMAT THAT INCLUDES :Assignment Order (number the items down the first column)Check-off/Completion ColumnAssignment Title, Directions, Location, Grading CriteriaDue Date by Specific Day, Date and Time(Tuesday, February 22 1:00 pm)Total Points Possible Learning Objectives (so they know why theyre doing it)

This helps keep the students and the course organized.


Examples of Assignment Schedules:

Assignment Schedule Example #1: Mass CommAssignment Schedule Example #2: InterpersonalAssignment Schedule Example #3: InterculturalAssignment Schedule Example #4: Social MediaAssignment Schedule Example #5: Intercultural S10

#4 Two Due Dates WEDNESDAYS at 1:00 pm FRIDAYS at 1:00 pm

This gets students into course early and helps prevent total procrastination.*

Other notes about my schedule:I do an early release at 3:00 pm on the Friday prior (only one week at a time)Ive found a 1:00 pm deadline is better than midnight since Im online and our staff is availableSmaller work on Wednesday makes it very manageable.I still have turn-over time for any layered assignments

#5 Extra Credit for Spelling Mistakes One point (only on quizzes and surveys) Only first person who properly reports the error (must include student name, class, quiz/survey title, question number, error and what the error should be)

This promotes real accountability and improves course communication.


Music, Media and Otters!!!

#6 Consistency Due dates/times Repeat-type assignments Class PoliciesGrading

This gets students into a routine and helps class management.

For ExampleClassmate Questions always due WednesdaysChapter Quizzes always due FridaysConsistent grading (two communication errors equals a point deduction with one freebie.)Consistent point values (Chapter Quizzes are always 25 points)No Late Work No Exception

#7 Variety Courses Assignments Opportunities

This help keep students engaged and connected to content.

I have students take Learning Style Assessment and try to hit all learner types. For examplePlaylists (use for survey, and I frequently have students create a playlist based on a theme)Videos (use as tutorials, quiz them on videos Ive created, search & report on videos and soon will have them create their own videos)Word Scrambles Fill in the missing word in this quoteInterpersonal interview assignments Photo AssignmentsSurveys

#8 Survey Students Student Self Assessments Concept ApplicationCourse Effectiveness

This helps keep students and instructor connected to the learning objectives.

Other benefits:Gives me statistical data to use for other assignmentsHelps keep the class dynamicHelps students connect to information personallyGives me information on whether or not Im accomplishing my goals (or how well) = Course EffectivenessReinforces students accountability/responsibility (I ask, Do you feel you have a foundational understanding of Chapter 5? and follow it up with How much of Chapter 5 did you read? (And yes, I think students are pretty honest)Ive used some statistics outside of that class (support why our online class tallies shouldnt be raised, discuss whether students think they would have cheated if the tests had not been open bookthis one is scary honest)

Examples of Surveys/Survey Results:Self-assessments:Survey Example #1: Social Media Online Usage ResultsSurvey Example #2: Social Media Facebook ResultsSurvey Example #3: Interpersonal Incivility ResultConcept Application:Survey Example #4: Interpersonal Windows/MirrorsSurvey Example #4B: Intercultural Windows/MirrorsCourse Evaluation:Survey Example #5: Mass Comm Assessment of wk9Survey Example #6: Intercultural Post RecipeSurvey Example #7: Interpersonal Final Eval

#9 Open Book Untimed TestsTIERED RANDOMIZATION:Question OrderAnswer Options within the question itselfQuestions Selected

Ive found this helps relieve student and instructor stress so we can focus on active learning.

Other benefits:Helps me reinforce no-late work policy (Can do work ahead of time if possible and only with advance notice)Allows students to manage their own grade betterStudents still put in the time they probably would have otherwise Allows for real life interruptions that my students encounter (ie tooth story)As I mentioned before reduces their anxiety and mine!

#10 Politeness Reaffirm respectful communication Use lots of please and thank you Kill em with kindness Encourage I-messagesAnswer questions first, then do a food for thought or please re-read this and see if it could be perceived in a way

Promotes class integrity, respect, and win-win communication.

Just a few examples:

Tag Galaxy

Playlist.comOSN Decade ExampleInterpersonal: Love Types Example


Windows and Mirrors TheoryTheory explanationLearning Object:

Music Videos blog

Other Resources I like to useIn Plain English YouTube Series


Delicious (Social Bookmarking Site)

Thanks and Good Luck!