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Universal Strategies for Success
One universal trait among online teachers is their desire to help improve student success; unfortunately, there is no universally agreed upon strategy that works. When I sat down to write this article, I decided not to let that minor detail influence me and set about recording some useful approaches that I know have worked for a number of my colleagues. What I came up with is a set of approaches that are specific enough that they can be immediately put to use but flexible enough that they can be applied to virtually any class.
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One thing I want to address before getting into the meat of the article is the fact that not all students can be helped. Even the best approaches will not work with some students so teachers must be selective when applying strategies and invest their time wisely. Students that have motivational problems or lack the necessary aptitude to succeed in class are generally beyond the help of instructors. And, since time is always at a premium, the time required to help one of these students is usually unfair to the rest of the students in the class.
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The first of the strategies that online teachers can use to improve student success is to make as many extra resources available to the student as possible. Teachers sometimes need reminding that they don't have to reinvent the wheel and that there are a lot of free resources on websites, YouTube, software sites, and especially the brilliant and useful resource we lovingly call Bright Hub. It takes a little time to assemble the links for all of these resources but the benefits are impressive.
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Another strategy is an informational approach that involves creating a detailed syllabus with extensive information about assignment requirements. The syllabus I use is to twenty-seven pages long. Online environment rely on resources more than traditional classes, so providing information in the syllabus, FAQs, grading rubrics, or samples helps students understand the assignments better and has a measurable impact on student success rates.
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There are technical strategies that can be used by instructors who are technically capable. The number and quality of the materials available from an instructor is directly proportional to the technical and informational skills of the instructor. Technical resources take the form of Captivate examples, step-by-step instructions, and templates. These resources can be extremely effective in helping teachers to improve student success rates.
The other technical strategy that I will point out is designed to help students improve their writing abilities. Not every instructor will need to do this, but it is worth mentioning because the written word is so important in almost every class. Helping students with this strategy involves creating specialized tutorials that address specific writing mistakes. Sometimes these are presented in Adobe Captivate presentations or an instructor may dissect an example of common mistakes that is distributed to students to help them make improvements.
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Strategies Lead to Success
In reading through this article, you no doubt identified with some of these approaches. What I hope you will do is consider the other approaches and determine how you can work them into your existing repertoire. Determining which strategies can help an online teacher improve student success depends on the teacher, course, and students. As you customize and apply these strategies with your own students, you will inevitably see a noticeable degree of increased student success.