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90% Of Students Fail Online Classes

written byErickson Coaching Internationalon 24/03/2015

Research conducted by Columbia University’s Community College Research Center has shown that students who enroll in online courses are far more likely to withdraw from, or fail, the course than students in traditional classroom-style courses? Attrition rates can be as high as 90% in online classes. Why so high, you say?  

While online learning can be extremely convenient for those that lead busy lives there are three areas where this type of learning might fail students in the long run. We took the time to identify how these potentially troublesome concerns can be overcome.  

Technology Troubles

Have you ever logged into a class to have it not connect properly? Perhaps you’ve been in the middle of a lecture and the software being used has stopped working or shut down? Or maybe you’re logged in as normal and you just can’t hear anything?   There is a lot of technology that is used to facilitate an online class…and that can lead to some serious challenges for many students. Frustration with technology is often a barrier to entry for many people – not getting support for technical issues or experiencing the same issues on a regular basis is often enough to turn people away from the online environment.  

Best Practices: 

Taking the time to introduce new students to learning management systems and other platforms, such as webinar software, that are used in the online environment can overcome huge concerns about using unfamiliar tools. 

This helps students understand what to expect when logging into their first class and where to go for help and additional resources so they can get the most out of their learning. Additionally, having dedicated support for students while they are in their classes means that they can focus on learning rather than technical troubleshooting on their own.  

Remote Teamwork

When working in an online environment, there’s an opportunity to work with people from other countries, regions, and cities. It’s great for feeling like you’re part of a global community and having the opportunity to interact with people you might never meet. Working in teams is also a great way to get really involved in your learning.  

However, working in remote teams can also be quite difficult for some people. Without face-to-face interaction, one can feel disconnected, have a hard time building rapport with classmates or team members, or simply feel uncomfortable with speaking to someone they have never met. When you’re trying to work together closely on a particular task, these elements can make it that much more of a challenge for some people and can have adverse effects on their online learning experience.  

Best Practices:

Instructors can establish rapport at the start of each class by interacting on a conversational level, reviewing learning to date and setting the class into a mindset of comfort and ease with one another.

In addition, the effective and regular use of breakout sessions within each class allows small groups of students to get to know one another while putting their coach training into practice. This creates a more personal learning environment which might be favorable for those less comfortable with speaking in front of large groups. Most webinar platforms allow for a multitude of media to encourage student interaction, such as webcams and chat functionality so that students feel as though they are in the room with their global classmates and can get that face-to-face interaction despite not being in the same room.  

Struggling Students

Some students may find learning requires extended support for them regardless of how they take their classes and the online environment might not provide the complete support structure that these students need to be successful in their course. Many students need peer-to-peer and instructor interaction immediately and in person – and they may feel that online courses don’t offer the same level of support with the same immediacy.  

Even though online classes often have instructors that have physical office locations that offer drop in times, this is not always convenient for students who need help in a particular moment, nor is it possible for those who are not local to the class. For those students, engagement with their instructors is vital to their success and continued attendance in the class.  

Best Practices:

Support can be provided in a multitude of ways, depending on what the student needs. Whether it’s connecting with administrative staff, reaching out to specific instructors through learning management systems, or making the most of regularly updated learning resources, there is often a support option for every type of student and learning preference. Many online classes have a teaching assistant available who can provide assistance and answers to questions without causing any disruption to the class or the student themselves. This takes the stress off having to ask a question in front of an entire class and puts that student at ease. Wherever possible, having physical office hours can help many students with questions or learning needs, as they have time allocated to their appointment and can feel much more comfortable knowing that their needs are being met.  

If you’re ready to start your coach training and debating which type of learning environment is for you, check out our previous post: “Coach Training: Online Or In-Person?”  

Don't forget, our Enrollment Advisors are also here to help you make the right decision for your learning needs and you can call 800-665-6949 or email info@erickson.edu any time.