Building a Foundation for Success Through Student Services for Online Learners
Retaining students in distance education programs requires institutions to field a strategically aligned, cross-unit team able to provide streamlined and effective services to online learners throughout the student’s academic life (from applicant to alumni). If any team member drops the ball during interaction with the online student, the student becomes frustrated or distracted, and student retention is jeopardized. In today’s highly competitive marketplace, students have a “universe of opportunities” for obtaining an education and advancing their careers. Attracting and retaining students is crucial to traditional institutions like Duquesne University in order to remain competitive in the online education marketplace. The university’s recent commitment to formalizing graduate courses online has brought strategic planning, oversight, resources, and support to students. The Online Campus director initiated an examination of the services necessary for online students to be successful learners. As Duquesne found out, retaining online students goes beyond offering resident-equivalent services to online learners; it requires a holistic and networked approach that leverages existing technologies and an institutional commitment to its online learners, or what the authors have designed as the COMFORT model.
The Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks