Communication as a Retention Factor in Online Course Delivery

Communication as a Retention Factor in Online Course Delivery

Judi Simmons Estes (Park University, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2998-9.ch017
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Abstract

Online courses have become an integrated aspect of course delivery for institutions of higher education. However, the attrition that occurs in online courses is substantially higher than in face-to-face courses. This chapter considers the influence of student communication factors in both course and degree program retention. An argument is presented related to the role of being intentional in planning and implementing communication strategies within courses and degree programs as a conduit for positively influencing completion. A second argument is that while all college/university personnel have a role in student attention, the role of faculty is significant and requires on-going professional development.
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Background

“Lack of persistence in online education and its’ consequence of attrition, is an identified problem within the United States and internationally” (Hart, 2012, p. 19). Online learning, e-learning and distance education are each terms used for the process of delivering instruction in a venue other than a traditional brick and mortar setting, most often through a web-based learning management system. Simonson, Smaldino, Albright and Zvacek (2012) defined distance education as “institution based formal education where the learning group is separated, and where interactive telecommunications systems are used to connect learners, resources, and instructors” (p. 32). According to Allen and Seaman (2014), 35.5% of all students have taken at least one online course at an institution of higher education.

“For some institutions, web-based courses have been viewed as a way to attract new students, as well as to provide more convenient education options for students currently enrolled” (Lion, 2011, p. 49). Indeed, there has been an increasing demand (17%) for online courses over face-to-face courses; online program growth is considered a priority at over 80% of major institutions of higher education (Allen & Seaman, 2010). Who are the online learners of today and what factors have been found to influence retention?

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