Christy Hawkins, director of continuing and professional education at Thomas Nelson Community College, offers the following recommendations to help retain online learners:
- Don't rely too heavily on text. An online course that is simply written material placed online can be a boring one, and it can be difficult for students who do not have great reading comprehension skills. Video snippets, chats with the instructor, and other ways to convey information can break up the tedium. “My teacher took the time to record little videos of his lectures, which really helped engage me,” one student reported.
- Let students know if supplemental opportunities are available. Some instructors may wish to schedule time for synchronous online chats or face-to-face meetings. Let the students know this at registration time so those who know they need more interaction with the instructor can opt into those sections of the course.
- “Be understanding when things happen,” says Hawkins. Students will have family and work issues crop up, and, within the bounds of institutional and course policies, it helps for an instructor to be understanding about these issues and to help students work through them.