Part-1: Abridged Literature
Despite the considerable growth in online high school programs, student retention stills remains a big problem. According to previous research works, attrition rate ranges from 20% to 50%. It is believed that the attrition rate in distance online programs is 10% to 20% higher as compared to face to face administered courses. With the advent of new technology, many learning institutions have identified online education programs as a critical component that cannot be ignored. In this regard, it is important for administrators to understand why there is a significant drop out for a student enrolled for online programs. Notably, online learning programs have opened opportunities for many students as compared to tradition method of face to face classroom learning. In addition, with the ever increasing number of online students and the increased use of online teach methods, there is a need to develop strategies that encourage more enrollment and retention for online students.
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Over the past few decades, enrolments for online programs have grown dramatically recording about 33% increase per year and contributing to about $ 2 billion to the world economies. Online programs have eliminated many barriers that have been hindering students from pursuing various courses offered traditionally through classrooms face to face method. The growth of online educational programs has allowed schools to expand on their programs and to reach the entire globe despite the difference in time zone. In addition, the programs have allowed the enrolled students to take part in collaborative learning by interacting with other students throughout the world. However, as the online courses becomes a success in today’s modern world, the enrollment rates still remain low compared to the traditional face to face classrooms. There are a number of issues that hinders the students from pursuing their education through this medium and this study will look at the various issues and examine the techniques that can be implemented to address such issues to increase both enrollment and retention rate bearing in mind the contribution of online programs to the economy development in terms of revenues and manpower.
Oberman(2002) considers the dropout rates for online programs highly unusual. There is no standard away of comparing dropout rate in both online and traditional classroom enrollment. As pointed out by Taddeo & Hackenberg (2006), online learning programs are not for everyone. In addition, some departments were found to lack technical skills necessary in offering online programs. In this light, a successful online program should have a good program design, administrative support, and an effectivedepartment among other factors. However, the factors found to contribute to high dropout rateand low enrollment rate include poorly designed courses compared to the traditional face to face teaching, feeling of isolation due to rare face to face contact with the course administrator, communication challenges, limited guidance and support as well as under developed technologies. Many schools were found to lack elaborate strategy of developing online courses and instead relied on the course instructors. However, the process of developing online classes and designing assignments and other class activities was found to be highly complex and very involving. More so, most teachers get demoralized as they rarely get compensation for online course development. Another challenge is that not all departments have competent technical staff with the capacity to develop online courses. A considerable number of schools operate both face to face teaching and online programs leaving an opportunity for those encountering challenges in online programs to switch to the other preferable programs. Buck, Islam & Syrkin (2006), cited problem in communication as another challenge to online programs enrollment. Bell & Kuon (2009) view limited communication between the course instructors and students as likely to cause students loss of focus. More so, the chances of miscommunication and lack of support from the instructors were found to contribute to feeling of frustrations. In this regard, problem of internet connection, which facilitates student and teachers communication, was cited as a major hindrance. While it is believed that many students have accessibility to high speed internet connection, many still use dial-up connections. The use of multimedia and band width content only serves to discourage many users due to reduced network connection. A small problem that could be solved within few minutes can take hours or even days to solve via emails. A school offering distance learning programs must get it’s all other colleges online before embarking on online programs. These are some of the problems that cause students enrolled for online programs to fail in class and eventually discontinue their study compared to their class room counterparts. Master & Oberprieler (2004), acknowledges that there is a possibility of students lacking the necessary skills for online programs. In this regard, the students who enroll for online programs require strong technical, writing, reading and typing skills. In addition, it was established that many learners waste a substantial amount of time resolving technical issues rather than focusing on learning.
To resolve these issues, there are a number of recommendations and suggestions that have been put forward to increase student retention for online programs. The most favored being student orientation(Oud, 2009). In this case, most schools have started orientation sessions that assist students to have a successful transition from the usual classroom face to face program to online programs. The orientation seminar gives the students an opportunity to interact with other students and departmental staff thus enabling them to overcome any fear about online learning programs. They are able to learn new technologies and develop relationships that eliminate physical isolation fears. Victor & Ronan (2007) pointed out that after holding a week long orientation seminar, student confidence level increases and they feel ready for their first online class. In addition, they are taught how to overcome technical problems which are common in the course of their leaning. Another factor that can increase enrollment for online programs is training on how to use online technology. Many schools are now having training sessions that requires faculty members to participate in online courses. Other than learning how to post notes and assignments, teachers are needed also to know how to communicate well with the students. Thomsett-Scott& May (2009), suggest that the departments need to be in the frontline when it comes to communicating with their students to alleviate a feeling of isolation. Weller (2008) is of the opinion that the instructors need to closely monitor the progress of their students especially during the first two classes. This was echoed by Oud (2009) who found that the dropout rate is high during first and second year after enrollment. Provision of sufficient technical support was found to bea considerable factor. BBBB indicates that schools need to develop their helpdesk to effectively deal with online students. He further says that, they should design tutorials, create frequently asked questions and their answers and also expand their hours of operation. Oberman (2002) suggested setting up a single point of contact for all online students requirements. It is important for students to have a contact person to help them in case they encounter problems in the course of their study.
Part-2: Annotated Bibliography
Taddeo, L., &Hackenberg, J. M. (2006).The nuts, bolts, and teaching opportunities of real-time reference.College & Undergraduate Libraries, 13(3), 63-85.
This study reviews how digital libraries and chat reference service incorporate e-learning strategies to promote self-directed learning through online learning environment. This service caters for the requirements of learners who are comfortable with sharing study materials via the internet and who do not require the librarian assistance. Using linear regression, the authors examined how availability of online learning services contributed to high education enrollment rate and student retention. The authors further discuss other ways of promoting e-learning in a virtual setting. According to the findings, the study established that most school drop outs were co-related with long distances, which students have to cover to go to school and endemic cases of bullying.
Skekloff, S., & Weller, W. (2008). Library instruction for distance students: Pioneering an onlinecollaboration.Indiana Libraries, 27(2), 51-53.
This study reviews how short scripts with reference services, vast online resources can be accessed via online CD-ROM version. The student survey conducted showed the project as a success. Review of the discussion forum proved to be efficient and effective means through which to conduct distance studies. The survey carried out in 100 students who had enrolled for distant learning demonstrated encouraging results, despite a drop in the participation, in the discussion forum. The drop was attributed to the reduction of the instructor’s involvement in the forum. Digital libraries and chat reference service incorporate e-learning strategies to promote self-directed learning through online learning environment. This service caters for the needs of students who are comfortable with sharing study materials via the Internet and who do not require the librarian assistance. Using linear regression, the authors examined how availability of online learning services contributed to high enrollment rate and student retention. The authors further discuss other ways of promoting e-learning in a virtual setting. The findings showed the students’ preference of digital library compared to tradition physical libraries. This article gives a comprehensive study of how the modern digitized and flexible learning methods have contributed to high student enrollment and student retention.
Oud, J. (2009).Guidelines for effective online instruction using multimedia screencasts.Reference Services Review, 37(2), 164-177.
This study discusses education and how cognitive psychology is used in designing library multimedia tutorials and screen casts for discussing and providing guidelines for the effective use in online academic library. Instructions, digital libraries and chat reference service incorporate e-learning strategies to promote self-directed learning through online learning environment. These services cater for the needs of students who are comfortable with sharing study materials via the internet and who do not require the librarian assistance. Using linear regression, the authors examined how availability of online learning services contributed to high enrollment rate and student retention.
Oberman, C. (2002).What the ACRL institute for information literacy best practices initiative tells us about the librarian as teacher. InLibraries for Life: Democracy, Diversity, Delivery. IFLA Council and General Conference: Conference Programme and Proceedings (68th, Glasgow, Scotland, August 18-24, 2002)
The author identifies the elements needed for a successful online information literacy program. The paper centers on the librarian as the instructor. However, Oberman identifies collaboration with department faculty and proper knowledge of the curriculum, and alignment with a department’s pedagogy as the most significant factors for the program’s success. According to the findings, the study established that most school drop outs were co-related with long distances, which students have to cover in order to go to school and endemic cases of bullying. The authors surveyed 100 students, and their response showed that they value the ability to access learning materials from anywhere. This article gives a comprehensive study of how the modern digitized and flexible learning methods have contributed to the high student enrollment and student retention.
Masters, K., &Oberprieler, G. (2004).Encouragingequitableonlineparticipation
throughcurriculumarticulation.Computers&Education, 42(4), 319.
This study appreciates that the success of online learning heavily depend on active student participation, minimal instructor guidance and availability of other resources necessary for administering online training. The authors, however, point out that students need to be IT conversant.
Using interviews, the authors examined how availability of online learning services contributed to high enrollment rate and student retention. The authors further discuss other ways of promoting e-learning in a virtual setting.
The article reviews the use of electronic course reserves for providing information literacy. The authors select a target population to study information literacy activities by placing them into the electronic course reserves to complete an IT competence test before attending the library instruction sessions. Using linear regression, the authors examined how availability of online learning services contributed to high enrollment rate and student retention. According to the findings, most school drop outs were co-related with long distances, which students have to cover to go to school and endemic cases of bullying. The authors surveyed 150 students, and their response showed that they valued the ability to access learning materials from anywhere.
Thomsett-Scott, B., & May, F. (2009).How may we help you? Online education faculties tell us what they need from libraries and librarians.Journal of Library Administration, 49(1),
This study examines online library services awareness and the need of offering online courses. The discussion focuses on how to improve and explore other new library services that can support online teaching. This service caters for the needs of students who are comfortable with sharing study materials via the Internet and who do not require the librarian assistance.
The findings showed that students using physical libraries experienced some considerable difficulties in locating require information thus the suggestions of online library resources,which should include training sessions, updating librarian-created course web pages and, improving tutorials for library resources.
This study considers incorporate of online teaching methods to the traditional classrooms in order to encourage more student retention. The online learning tools are credited with exposing students to the digital tools, develop student comfort through the introduction of new learning tools and finally, evaluate student progress by way of an assessment test. According to the findings, the study established that most school drop outs were co-related with long distances which students have to cover to go to school and endemic cases of bullying.
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