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Engaging Students with Technology is Imperative to Improving Student Retention

A college’s choice of course management system provider could turn the tide in their rates of completion and the success of future generations

A new white paper authored by WebStudy President Gisele Larose provides a solution for community colleges looking to improve upon student engagement—and student retention rates—by weaving teaching and learning best practices with course management system (CMS) technology. The paper, “Student Retention at Community Colleges: Engaging a New Generation with Technology is Key to America’s Future,” also asserts that student retention rates will play a key role in the future of our nation as we confront the challenges of globalization.

"Though the blame for falling retention rates has many targets, most experts concur that central to the retention problem is a lack of student engagement,” Larose writes in the paper. “When it comes to student engagement, community colleges in particular face a demographic with challenges…. many students who choose community college face inadequate college preparation, limited support systems, financial disadvantages, hectic work schedules or learning disabilities.”

Many experts propose, and Larose agrees, that “blended learning” —blending teaching and learning best practices with CMS technology in an interactively meaningful learning environment—will shift student engagement in a powerful way and make learning more independent, useful and sustainable. But the right CMS technology is a crucial part of the equation.

“To help educators understand how to leverage technology to engage students, colleges should look for CMS vendors that understand the complex needs of higher education institutions in today’s global economy, those that are focused on learning first, organizational growth second,” Larose says. “To be truly effective, CMS must be designed with pedagogy in mind. Then it can meet the needs of community colleges with features and functionality based on a solid understanding of how students, faculty and administrators operate.”

The paper provides questions that community colleges should carefully consider before integrating technology:

  • Is your current CMS welcomed and intuitive, such that campus-wide blended learning will become the norm?
  • Does the CMS technology go beyond information storage to enrich the educational experience for students of all levels?
  • Does the CMS company provide the kind of service and support the school requires?
  • Will the pricing work within budget realities to support this growth?
  • Will your blended learning program and your distance learning program give students the just-in-time access, service, individualized direction and personalization they deserve?

Larose concludes that as technology is embraced by all faculty for blended learning, there is evidence that it can enhance student performance, provide equal opportunity for students of all learning styles, connect all students with the institution and potentially reduce dropout/withdrawal rates. In other words, welcomed, intuitive technology can engage students and improve retention.

“The United States has been in the top ranking in college completion and we will do what it takes to rise to the challenge again,” Larose says. “Engaging students with technology is imperative if retention is to be improved in American community colleges and a college’s choice of CMS provider/technology partner could turn the tide in their rates of completion and the success of future generations.”

Click here to download a copy of “Student Retention at Community Colleges: Engaging a New Generation with Technology is Key to America’s Future.”

Posted by The League for Innovation in the Community College on 12/09/2009 at 5:00 PM | Categories: Partners & Friends -