In April 2017, the Personalized Learning Consortium (PLC) at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) launched a self-paced, online course, A SMART Approach to Student Success: Strategic Management of Advising Reform and Technology (SMART), to provide guidance to executive and project level institution leaders on redesigning and improving the delivery of advising and student support services and incorporating the use of technology. The objective of developing the course was to expand understanding across the postsecondary sector of successful models for integrating advising, technology and student support services and to increase the number of public colleges and universities implementing this model on their campuses by providing accessible guidance based on the experiences of peer institutions.
The PLC identified five exemplar campuses to feature in our course. APLU visited Colorado State University, Georgia State University, Middle Tennessee State University, Austin Community College, and Whatcom Community College with a video crew and conducted in-depth interviews with presidents, provosts, leadership in academic and student affairs, deans, advisor managers, advisors, faculty and students to obtain a holistic sense of the role each stakeholder played in redesigning and implementing new systems for delivering advising and student support services. Video interviews were also captured with experts and researchers in the field including technology vendors.
The video interviews serve as the anchor content for the final course which includes six lessons designed to provide guidance in the following areas: assessing gaps in current advising and student support systems, planning for structural and process change and setting goals, measuring progress through the use of qualitative and quantitative measures, implementation strategies and training, communication strategies, and projecting and quantifying return on investment in student success.
The intended audience for the course includes executive leadership and project level managers as well as others who are responsible for assessing systems and implementing campus-wide structural and process level changes. The course was designed to facilitate and increase the accessibility of peer to peer learning on this topic by capturing effective practices employed by colleges and universities and by delivering guidance on implementing these practices using an online platform. To date, 77 institutions have enrolled in the course both as teams and individual learners.
Description of Effective Practice: Innovative approach to sharing institutional knowledge
The PLC developed an online, asynchronous, self-paced course anchored in video content derived from in-depth video interviews with five institutions that are leaders in integrating advising and student support services. The course includes 6 lessons, 180 minutes of curated instructional video, resources developed by experts in the field that highlight the current landscape of research on implementation strategies, and activities in the form of worksheets and excel spreadsheets to guide planning, implementation, evaluation and communication. “Anchor Videos” appear on the first page of each lesson and introduce the lesson topic through interviews with executive and project level leadership from multiple institutions. “Campus Experience” videos highlight the experience of a single profiled institution as it relates to the topic of the lesson and “Campus Voices” videos provide brief clips taken from a single stakeholder interview that address the topic area for the lesson from their perspective. The videos frame the subject matter, the resources provide a deeper dive into the subject, and the activities are designed to allow participants to assess and make plans specific to their campus context.
The course was designed to facilitate and increase the accessibility of peer to peer learning by capturing effective practices employed by colleges and universities and by delivering guidance on implementing these practices using an online platform. By anchoring the majority of the content in curated video interviews with five leading institutions, the PLC sought to provide course participants with the experience of a site visit to a successful institution.
We are aware that colleges and universities are in various stages of reforming the delivery of advising and student support services among other initiatives to support student success. The self-paced, asynchronous, and video based format was designed to meet this need by providing learners with flexibility in choosing the content most relevant to the challenges and goals of their institution. The content can be accessed by an individual or team, over time, to support and guide assessment, implementation and planning activities and to provide examples from peer institutions addressing similar change initiatives. This model exceeds industry standards for delivering technical assistance using an online delivery mechanism, of this quality, on this topic.
Evidence of Effective Practice:
Seventy-seven institutions have participated in the course both as teams and individual learners at this time. To evaluate the efficacy of the course as a tool for scaling effective practices and to learn more about how institutions have been deploying the course content on their campuses, the PLC conducted phone interviews with five leaders from participating institutions and disseminated a 14 question quantitative survey to 154 course participants.
Eighty-seven percent of the surveyed participants agreed or strongly agreed that the course provided comprehensive and applicable information and 70% would recommend this course to a peer institution. Participants found that videos highlighting the experiences of peer institutions were very useful in engaging a diverse group of cross-campus stakeholders in discussions about redesigning the delivery of advising and student support services and changing structures, policies and practices.
Interviews with campus leadership indicate that the content on institutional change, as depicted through video interviews, was particularly useful as a tool for engaging in dialogue about what a systemic approach to advising looks like and how to create similar systems. Interviewees reported that the examples provided by other institutions through the video content provided great value and were particularly useful for stoking discussion and ideation around changing structures, policies and practices.
The course content that addressed the use of early alert systems was also mentioned frequently in our interviews as particularly valuable, specifically the content related to engaging faculty and advisors in the use of early alerts to improve communication about student performance. Several participants said they developed concrete next steps and strategic plans as a result of participating in the course and indicated that they continue to use the video gallery component of the course to return to specific interviews.
Metric for Measuring Success:
Quantitative and qualitative data from participant interviews and surveys were used to measure the utility.
Access and Scale:
Delivering video on an online platform is an effective tool for disseminating and scaling effective practices in campus-wide advising redesign because it provides participants with the opportunity to experience a virtual “site visit” to a successful institution without leaving their institution or having to schedule or plan a trip.
The cost to enroll in the course as compared to other mechanisms for attaining similar technical assistance (hiring consultants, visiting peer institutions, attending a conference) is low which may significantly increase access to direct guidance from peer institutions. Participants are able to learn from the experiences (successes and lessons learned) of other institutions without having to schedule a site visit which would involve travel cost and scheduling time off.
The self-paced, asynchronous model significantly increases the ease of access to this type of content. The content may be accessed through multiple devices and the online delivery model allows the experience to be shared with a larger group of constituencies on campus. Course participants are able to access the course content at any time and may access the content as frequently as they would like. Teams may revisit content as necessary and seek out particular perspectives through the 114 video assets available in the Media Gallery as well as in the course lesson pages. All video content is tagged allowing learners to efficiently search for guidance on particular implementation issues or from specific campus representatives (presidents, provosts, deans, faculty, advisors, other leadership in academic and student affairs).
Relationship to Pillars:
Student Satisfaction and Learning Effectiveness:
Survey data and direct feedback from campus leaders participating in the course indicate that institutions found learning from the experiences of peer institutions to be useful in guiding discussion, planning and implementation efforts on their own campuses. The video components of the course, particularly, allowed course participants to explore new approaches to implementation challenges through the first hand experiences of peer institutions. Multiple perspectives are delivered through the video assets within the course and coax learners to think creatively about what is possible while activities and resources allow learners to continue this exploration and plan concrete steps
Participating institutions have used the course as a tool to guide their student success leadership teams in goal setting, planning and implementation meetings and to increase awareness among executive leadership about the benefits of reforming the delivery of advising. Some institutions have assigned specific lessons and videos to members of their student success team or led workshops with project leadership using the video content to drive discussions of implementation planning, potential challenges and solutions.
Equipment Necessary to Implement this Practice:
Access to this tool requires an internet connected device.
The cost to purchase the course ranges from $199-$249 for single seat enrollments and $995-$1245 for 20 seat enrollments depending on APLU member status. When evaluating the cost of the course, participants should also consider the cost of staff time allocation.
We are happy to include any references for course development personnel and participants if required, or any other material beyond this submission.
Program Overview: www.aplu.org/smart
A SMART Approach to Student Success: Feedback and Evaluation / December 2017
How to Use This Course: https://tinyurl.com/y8hsbywm
Webinar - Introducing A Smart Approach to Student Success: https://nasulgc-my.sharepoint.com/:v:/g/personal/mlausch_aplu_org/EVZbTm...