In the spotlight: Online retention strategies
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Robby Fuselier Spring is in the air! FSU is buzzing with activity. I love seeing students with their laptops and books studying on Landis Green or collaborating with peers in coffee shops around town. Students are the heart of our university and community. Some will even be donning caps and gowns to cross the graduation stage and into an exciting new future in places both near and far. ODL’s goal is to serve these students—whether in class or online—and ensure they receive the academic, professional, and personal support they need to succeed in the classroom and beyond. In this issue of “Distance Up Close,” we highlight the support services we provide for all students. 
You’ll read about how our colleges and departments are working to keep online students connected and engaged, both important factors in their retention. The Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) is reaching out to learners by converting its course for academic success strategies to an online delivery model. You can listen to ACE’s Andrew Dentzau as he describes how the course will, in particular, benefit distance and online students. We also take a closer look at career services and online tutoring in writing, as well as chat with distance services librarian Lindsey Wharton.
In addition to these services, we look forward to working on other initiatives. We’re partnering with the Libraries to provide 24/7 technology support to students and also exploring how best to develop online tutoring to ensure students who may need extra assistance are provided with the option.
As you read through this issue, please share with your students all the ways we can help them achieve academic and professional success!

Robby Fuselier


Sharing Online Retention Strategies

One way to provide support for students is to create learning environments that are conducive to online success. From on-campus weekends to internship opportunities, FSU colleges and departments share some of the strategies they use to help ensure the retention of online students.
  • Foster connectedness. The College of Social Work requires distance students to spend two weekends on campus in a residency environment. Study and support groups connect students by geographical location, enabling distance learners to benefit from face-to-face interactions with peers. The College also livestreams events and conferences so distance students have access to the same events as their on-campus counterparts.
  • Identify and provide support for at-risk students. The Department of Computer Science monitors gaps in registration to identify students who struggle because of financial issues or family pressures. The College of Education creates remediation plans with formative assessments to help at-risk students improve performance.
  • Ensure online readiness. The College of Business offers a pre-course to prepare students for the required accounting course. The pre-course has helped reduce student withdrawals, subpar grades, and academic probations.
  • Provide synchronous and asynchronous formats. Both delivery models serve the unique needs of online learners. The School of Information leverages synchronous formats to engage their distance students, inviting them into live discussions where they feel less isolated from other students. The College of Social Work's asynchronous courses enable students who work full-time to balance work and classes, an important factor in their retention.
  • Promote prompt, effective communication. Colleges and departments use multiple communication tools and respond to student queries promptly. The College of Criminology and Criminal Justice ensures student concerns are addressed within 24 hours.
  • Tailor academic advising to student needs. To provide consistency for students, the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy makes sure the same academic advisor who works with students when they begin their program works with them in academic recovery sessions.
  • Offer online career advising. The School of Information sends its students regular updates about events and services available to online students, such as career advising opportunities, employer events, and jobs.
  • Provide internships, scholarships, and awards. The College of Criminology and Criminal Justice ensures its distance students have online access to internship opportunities.
  • Provide support for online faculty. The School of Communication commits resources to instructors teaching online courses so they can, in turn, support their students.
For an in-depth look at the retention strategies that colleges and departments have implemented, please see our online retention document.

ACE Student Support Course to Go Online

The Office of Distance Learning is collaborating with the Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) to convert the Center’s student support course to an online delivery format.

The current face-to-face version of SLS1122: Strategies for Academic Success helps students develop and apply study skills and success strategies to improve academic performance. Students will learn about time management, note taking, test preparation, active listening, critical thinking, and learning strategies. The course is required for students placed on academic probation but can also serve as an elective for students interested in honing their study habits.

The online version will cover the same content and keep the same major assessments as the face-to-face course. “We hope that by bringing this course to our online students we can really extend the success that we’ve seen our face-to-face students have,” said ACE’s Andrew Dentzau, who is one of three full-time faculty who teaches the course, along with Dr. Patricia Golay and Holly Hunt. “We are aiming to deliver as close to the same core experience as possible with the online delivery but also take advantage of the unique benefits that online courses offer, such as asynchronous communication, the ability to re-watch material, and the integration of technologies.” For more from Dentzau about how the course will engage and benefit online students, please view the video below.
ODL instructional development faculty Liying Miao and instructional technology faculty John Braswell are working with Dentzau to repurpose content for the course, with an eye toward quality and accessibility standards. “The goal is to re-energize the course so students are introduced to new strategies that align more closely with the technologies they use daily,” said Braswell. The ODL media production team D.D. Garbarino, Jim Shaw, and Daniela Hernandez are shooting new lecture modules that will be transferred to the online course.

Dentzau hopes to pilot the online course in Summer C 2019. “We traditionally have a relatively low number of students taking SLS over the summer, so this will be a good chance for us to slowly bring this online and ideally scale the course up after the pilot semester.”

Canvas Course Provides Online Learning Support

Learning Online @ FSU is a voluntary, non-credit-bearing learner support course designed for FSU students interested in taking online courses and/or becoming more successful online students. The course provides tips and advice on study skills, group work, and communication strategies. Instructors are encouraged to let their students know about this opportunity. Students can find the course on their Canvas dashboard. For questions, students can contact Dr. Kerry Burner, ODL instructional development faculty and course designer.

Providing Internships for ISLT Students

Faculty and instructional design students are working together this spring to build or refresh online courses. The Office of Distance Learning and the College of Education’s Instructional Systems and Learning Technologies (ISLT) are collaborating on an internship program that pairs faculty with an instructional design graduate student for assistance with converting a face-to-face course online or revising an existing online course. The one-semester internship fulfills an academic requirement for students while giving them real-world experience in their chosen field.

For the spring semester, four ISLT graduate students are working on course conversion with instructors from ISLT, the Department of English, and the College of Education. Interns receive training in the Quality Matters (QM) rubric, which will help them ensure the course they are working on meets quality standards and passes a QM review. For summer, four new interns will work at the program level, teaming up with the College of Nursing to help convert courses to an online delivery mode.

Interested faculty are welcome to apply for intern assistance; the next call for applications is Fall 2019. For more information about the program, please contact Internship Supervisor Dr. Kerry Burner.

Checking Out Distance Library Services

The Office of Distance Library Services helps fulfill the learning and research needs of distance students. ODL recently chatted about these services with Lindsey Wharton, Extended Campus & Distance Services Librarian, who has served in this role since 2014.

Can you share how the Office of Distance Library Services supports distance students?
The Office of Distance Library Services supports distance and extended campus students through provision of online reference and research help, assistance in accessing various materials at a distance, and online instruction and information literacy support. My job is not only making sure that students at a distance know about all our wonderful resources, but that they feel empowered and confident engaging with scholarly materials and participating in the research process.

How do you connect with and build relationships with distance students?
One of the best things about being a librarian is finding opportunities to connect with students individually and provide them with the skills, knowledge, and support that they need to be successful in the classroom and beyond. I connect with students through brief interactions on our Ask A Librarian chat service and longer research consultations (both synchronous and asynchronous) as well as online workshops and instruction sessions. I believe the online environment allows for lasting and worthwhile relationships and provides a platform for many types of learners and personality types to thrive.

What services do you find are the most popular with distance students?
I think the most popular service is access to our electronic databases, journals, articles, and books through the library website. Distance students also really enjoy our Ask A Librarian chat service, available 24 hours/5 days a week during the academic year. Interlibrary Loan and UBorrow are two other popular services—these allow students to access materials from other libraries. Distance learners can also request books from our collection to be delivered to their home address. Our subject librarians create research guides that are a fabulous resource for distance learners because they provide subject-specific support and guidance.
Any final thoughts?
One thing I have learned during my time here is that “distance learning” can be so many different things—there are different needs, different goals, and different ways I can act as the distance learning advocate that I strive to be.
(For a quick look at distance library services, you can view this video.)

Offering Online Students the Write Stuff

Instructors whose online students may need assistance with academic and professional writing can direct them to the Reading-Writing Center Online (RWC-O). As part of the FSU English Department, the RWC-O provides individualized reading and writing tutoring for distance and online students.

The mission of the on-campus Reading-Writing Center is “to provide feedback that will help [students] to develop as readers and writers of all texts.” The RWC-O shares a similar mission, with synchronous online tutoring using Google Drive & Hangouts or a video-chat equivalent.
“Our services include working with writers of all disciplines, backgrounds, and levels, and we work with most writing genres, including academic and professional,” said Dr. Stephen McElroy, Director of the Reading-Writing Center and Digital Studio. Tutors guide and encourage students in writing techniques and strategies, helping them gain confidence in their writing.

The RWC-O has offered online tutoring for at least seven years and averages about 50 online appointments per academic year. The students come from a variety of disciplines and, according to McElroy, “perhaps surprisingly, the majority of our online appointments are with graduate students, though we have worked with a number of undergrads, too.”
If your students are interested in making an appointment, they can visit the center’s webpage and sign up for online services under “RWC-Online Appointment Request.”

Creating a Career Portfolio

To help students prepare for the professional world, the FSU Career Center has created the FSU Career Portfolio. Both distance and on-campus students can use this online resource to show evidence of learning and demonstrate skills to prospective employers and graduate schools.

Students can use the Career Portfolio to:
  • create a personal profile and skills matrix
  • upload their resume, references, and digital artifacts
  • share their portfolio via email or upload a shareable link (for assignments in Canvas)  
“The Career Portfolio provides an online space for students to document their professional and career goals, showcase and reflect on skills/accomplishments, and better articulate qualifications or abilities to employers or graduate schools,” said Emily Kennelly, Senior Assistant Director, Career Advising & Counseling at the Career Center. Kennelly also serves as the liaison for distance learning and FSU Panama City students.

In addition to the portfolio, the Career Center provides the following resources to engage distance learners in career planning: More information about available resources can be found on the Career Center website.

New Kaltura Media Storage Policy

Kaltura has implemented a new policy pertaining to media storage. Under this policy, videos and audio recordings uploaded to or recorded within Kaltura that have not been accessed for playback within the last four years will be removed from Kaltura. Once this policy goes into effect on July 31, 2019, media removals will occur daily.

What does this mean?
For 2019, this means that media stored in Kaltura that has not been accessed for playback in the past four years will be deleted beginning July 31, 2019. Any videos that were last played in 2015 or earlier are slated for removal. In 2020, any videos not played since 2016 will be slated for removal. These media removals will occur on an ongoing, daily basis so that a video last played on January 3, 2016, will be removed on January 3, 2020.

How do I avoid losing my media items?
We encourage instructors to download any videos or audio recordings they wish to keep to a remote storage device before their items’ slated removal date. For 2019 media removals, we recommend downloading media items before July 31, 2019. Note that if a video has been played at all over the past four years—even for two seconds—it will be retained.
Instructors, please notify your students of this change so they can retrieve any materials needed for a career or graduate school portfolio. For information on downloading media items, please see our support article.
FSU ODL Technical Support will be emailing active FSU faculty, staff, and students whose media is slated for removal. If you have any questions or concerns about this policy, please contact ODL Technical Support.


Spring Training

Canvas training wraps up for the spring semester with workshops and webinars on Canvas orientation and course design using modules. You can sign up for sessions—as well as any of our consultations—on our registration page. If you would like to arrange departmental training, contact John Braswell at 850-645-0469.

Release Notes

The March production release notes from Canvas describe updated features and bug fixes. Updates cover Commons, the New Gradebook, notifications, and account settings. You can access the complete release notes on the Canvas Community page.


Kaltura Media: A Student Perspective

Kaltura Media provides tools that are not only useful to instructors but can be valuable to students for completing course assignments and projects.
“Much of the attention in Kaltura has been focused on what instructors can do with media, but I’m particularly excited about the opportunities that Kaltura offers students,” said ODL instructional technology faculty John Braswell.
By downloading the Personal Capture tool, students can easily capture their webcam, audio, and screen. In addition to the media library, which is similar to YouTube, Kaltura provides a robust media editor and ensures captions for all uploaded videos. Using the Kaltura icon in the WYSIWYG editor (see graphic), media can be delivered and shared in different ways within Canvas, including content pages, discussion boards, and quizzes.
The ODL media production team has developed student video tutorials to help students produce quality videos using the editing software iMovie and Movie Maker. They can learn how to upload and cut video footage, add transitions between shots, and add text to their videos.
“Using media in the teaching and learning environment is a natural fit for students of the social media generation and a task they eagerly embrace,” said Braswell. “With the Personal Capture tool and resources developed by our media team, students can discover new ways of demonstrating competency.”
For more information on Kaltura resources, visit our Canvas Support Center.


Annotate PRO to Help with Feedback

Instructors can use Annotate PRO, a Google Chrome plugin from 11trees, to create and apply comments to student submissions. With the free version of Annotate PRO, you can store your comments in a library and use them to annotate materials in Canvas, Word, and Google Docs. Optional toolbars make it easy to access libraries and insert feedback with a single click, which can help save time when grading assignments.

Canvas integration is not required to use Annotate PRO; you can simply download and install the Chrome extension. Annotate PRO will work with Canvas’s SpeedGrader, but you will need to use it in conjunction with the Highlight Annotation tool in order to apply annotations to student work.
An annual subscription provides access to analytics, premade libraries of comments, and additional features. For more information, you can visit Annotate PRO.

Warning about Site Selling Study Notes

As a matter of practice, instructors should remind students each semester that FSU in no way endorses the buying or selling of study notes on any platform. The peer-to-peer learning marketplace StudySoup is currently communicating misleading information to FSU students by using the university seal on its website without permission. Instructors and students should be aware that FSU is not affiliated with this company nor does it condone the selling of study notes through StudySoup. If students sell course notes to StudySoup or any similar organization, they could be in violation of FSU policies on self-advertising. For more information, please see our support article.

Support Articles

Check out the most recent articles from our Canvas Support Center:



Spring Conferences & Events 


We are eager to receive your feedback on what you would like to see in future issues of the newsletter, so please send us your suggestions about ways ODL can better serve you.


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