Engagement, Persistence, and Retention: How USM use ConnectYard to Successfully Enhance these Key Factors

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the 2012 Blackboard World Conference in New Orleans, LA.  Blackboard World is always a huge conference with a lot of information.  Like years past, there were a lot of useful sessions and time well spent collaborating and meeting new folks from other schools learning about their experiences and key take aways.  There were several things I thought they could have done better, but the big negatives were the food and location.   Considering we were in a city known for their great food, what they provided at the conference was a disappointment.  And, although I love New Orleans, having to shuttle back and forth to the convention center from my hotel was a pain and the few times I had to walk the 2 miles to get to the other end of the convention center wasn’t pleasant, although admittedly the exercise was good for me 🙂 Overall, though I’m glad I was able to attend.

On the first day of the conference, along with my colleagues Sheri Rawls and Cindy Handley, we presented with ConnectYard.  We have been using ConnectYard for about a year to enhance the communication within our online courses.  ConnectYard provides the ability to set up alternate communication channels within Blackboard so students and faculty can self-select how they would like to receive discussion postings and announcements from their courses. They can select channels such as Facebook, Twitter, cell phone text messaging, or e-mail.  Feedback from our students and faculty has been overwhelmingly positive.  They like the customization of the service and that it allows them to access their messages from anywhere on their mobile devices.  We are currently pursuing other use cases for ConnectYard, such as for marketing and recruitment for our online programs and university wide communications among departments and online students.  To view our presentation, see below.

How USM Uses ConnectYard to Successfully Enhance Engagement, Persistence, and Retention Efforts from ahornton
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Getting the Most Marketing Potential out of your Online Programs

I recently attended the Distance Learning Administration conference in Jekyll Island, Georgia.  The conference offered some great sessions about ways to improve your distance learning services.  We took away some great ideas about how to enhance our services for our online students and ensure we are retaining our online students.  Along with my colleague, Amanda Cascio, we gave a presentation about how we have grown our marketing and recruitment efforts here at The University of Southern Mississippi.  We discussed lessons we learned along the way and how we have made improvements as well as our future plans to improve.  To view our presentation, please visit: http://prezi.com/bghoy1osecqt/dla/

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Conference on Teaching and Learning

I recently attended the 2012 Conference on Teaching and Learning at the University of South Alabama.  This conference included a lot of great presentations although the 15-minute time slots made it difficult when you really wanted to hear more about the topic being covered.  The highlight for me was the closing keynote.  Dr. Mark Milliron, Chancellor of Western Governors University Texas, gave a fantastic and inspiring presentation.  He spoke about how in education we need to go back to focusing on the student.  Our number one priority should be the success of our students and doing whatever necessary to ensure our students receive a quality education and building personal relationships with our students and their individual success.  In higher education, we can get wrapped up in the politics and seeing everyone as a statistic.  It should be about learning.  I was really impressed by the way Western Governors University concentrates on students reaching competencies and constructing a personalized learning experience for each student based on the the experience they bring with them instead of as most higher education institutions which are stuck in the idea that all students must take certain classes and a certain number of hours.  Students learn at different rates and the model that Dr. Milliron talked about really takes that into account.

Along with 3 of my colleagues, we gave a presentation on “Avoid Dead Air: What you Need to Know about Facilitating a Live Virtual Session.”  In our presentation we discussed tips for ensuring a successful and engaging experience. Presentation slides can be viewed below.

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Technology in Training…Where Do I Start?

This a presentation I gave to the Jackson group of the Mississippi Chapter of American Society for Training and Development about using Technology in Training.  In the presentation, we discussed using Webinars to conduct virtual training, e-learning, and using clickers in training.

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Creating Flexibility for Online Students: Partnership with MSVCC

My colleagues, Sheri Rawls, Chad Seals, and myself gave this presentation at the 2011 Creating Futures Through Technology Conference in March. We spoke about the consortium agreement between The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) and the Mississippi Virtual Community College (MSVCC).  This agreement allows USM students enrolled in a fully online program to have access to additional online general education courses offered by MSVCC, and not currently offered online through USM. This presentation included a discussion about what lead to this agreement, benefits, and lessons learned after piloting for one semester.  The presentation also included discussion of where they see the future of online going for USM.

To view our presentation, please click on the link below:

Creating Flexibility for the Online Student: The University of Southern Mississippi and MSVCC partnership http://www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/8143499
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Use of Clickers and Peer Instruction to Build Classroom Community

At the 2010 Creating Futures Through Technology and 2010 Mississippi Educational Computing Association Conference, my colleague, Gallayannee Yaoyuneyong, and I gave a presentation on how clickers along with Peer Instruction can increase student engagement and the forming of learning communities in the classroom.  Our presentation is below.
Use Of Clickers And Peer Instruction To Build Classroom Community
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Features, Technical Problems and Technical Support in Wimba Classroom

At the 2010 Creating Futures Through Technology conference, along with my colleagues Mary Nell McNeese, Ph.D., and Jalynn Roberts, Ph.D., we presented on the research study we conducted about the use of Wimba Classroom at multiple institutions.  We surveyed 4 institutions to collect data regarding how Wimba Classroom is being used and what the perceptions of students and faculty are regarding its use.  To view the presentation, visit the link below:
Features, Technical Problems and Technical Support in Wimba Classroom
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