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How Course Sharing Is a Force Multiplier for Student Success

Published by Acadeum

Life is complex for modern-day learners, and the ability of institutions to find pathways that can mold and bend with these learners will be fundamental to ongoing enrollment and retention success. According to Inside Higher Ed and College Pulse, around 40 percent of learners surveyed had considered stopping out due to the need for more flexibility in course delivery. Learners are imagining degree completion in new, innovative ways, and their expectations have shifted, resulting in the need for flexibility in degree pathways and offerings along the lifelong learning continuum.

To eliminate these barriers to student progress and completion, many institutions are turning to course sharing to deliver robust academic offerings and be more agile with their course scheduling. In order to support today’s modern-day learners and keep up with the rapid pace of change in preparing learners for the workforce, strategic partnerships powered by the Acadeum network offer institutions sustainable and relevant solutions to deliver courses, certificates, and programs. 

Continue reading to learn how institutions like Angelo State University and Benedict College are bolstering student success and retention efforts by implementing intervention strategies that help remove barriers to student progress and completion, including best practices for increasing retention and completion metrics.

Barrier: Course sequencing and scheduling is a barrier for students trying to acquire their degree.

Course sharing can be a valuable intervention tool to prevent attrition and make completion pathways for students affordable and timely. There are always circumstances in which a student may need a course that isn’t offered in an institution’s course schedule. According to the Inside Higher Ed and College Pulse survey, six in ten students experienced difficulty enrolling in a course they needed when they needed it. 

By partnering across the Acadeum network, colleges and institutions have access to immediate course solutions that help institutions be more nimble and responsive at a time when the needs, expectations, and preferences of modern-day learners are dramatically shifting. 

Solution: Benedict College utilizes winter terms to lighten course load and help students on the path to a timely graduation. Director of Specialized Programming Jamila S. Lyn said, “Course sharing is a tool, and I think perhaps that one of the most important benefits is the ability to adjust based on what the student needs in real time.” 

Traditionally, Benedict does not have winter term built into its calendar. However, the college identified other schools that offer winter terms through the Acadeum network to support Benedict students and reduce their spring course load.

By reducing course loads, Benedict College and other institutions increase the probability of students doing well academically. Additionally, offering a winter term gives Benedict the opportunity to think about academic recovery, even in the same semester. 

Ms. Lyn reflected on this improvement and stated, “By midterm, we have a really good sense of where students are in a particular course. If it looks like a student will not do well in that course or can’t finish out in person, we have enough start dates within the Acadeum portal to be able to pivot quickly.” 

As a result of this shift in thinking, Benedict College helped 48 seniors on their path to graduation through the use of winter terms. Moreover, Ms. Lyn noted an added advantage: “We found funding for those students during winter, which is unusual, because typically our students who come from a high Pell-dependent population don’t always have aid to help them in a winter term. So, as we’re thinking about courses that will work for them, we’re also proactively addressing the funding piece, which I think is critically important.” 

Barrier:  Offering prerequisites can be a barrier to retention for many institutions. Students select majors and then get on a pipeline track into programs that require prerequisites that may not be offered at an institution or on a student’s schedule. 

Solution: As a regional institution, Angelo State University (ASU) cannot physically offer every class every semester. Through the Acadeum network, ASU utilizes course sharing partners and eight-week courses to offer prerequisites for those students who may leave the institution to seek prerequisites when they need them. 

Director of Student Academic Progress Meagan Word noted that this challenge in scheduling and offering prerequisites specifically affects military students and student athletes and stated, “We are strong in our pre-professional programs, pre-med, pre-vet, and pre-nursing. But offering these courses in line with students’ schedules can cause some bottlenecks. We use course sharing as a strategy to help keep those students on track.” Angelo State University offers courses in 16-week terms, but powered by the Acadeum network, they are able to send students to eight-week courses and accommodate scheduling conflicts.  

As a military friendly institution, offering a range of scheduling options gives those students the option to progress in their degree in a timely manner by instituting some of ASU’s strategies for retention, including course sharing. In the same way, course sharing powered by the Acadeum network gives ASU the tools it needs to ensure student athletes meet their eligibility and scholarship guidelines. 

To date, ASU has helped 375 students and retained over $1 million in revenue by enrolling students in an additional year when they would have sought courses at another institution.

Barrier: It is a challenge to engage campus communities to implement campus-wide change for the institution and its students. 

Solution: A true retention and student success plan will make sure that the entire student safety net on campus is aware that course sharing is an intervention strategy. Institutions that utilize course sharing as a retention initiative should place staff to support and connect with the learners who may be taking a course with a partner institution to ensure that the student is successful.

It is also important to empower student success champions in campus training, including providing  champions with access to the Acadeum platform and recommending course solutions using technology like the Acadeum Course Share Platform and its student communication portal.

Meagan Word from ASU recommended connecting with the frontline staff like advisors, since they maintain the most student interaction on the academic side, and sending email reminders to advisors before sessions every semester. 

She also recommended employing collaborative Q&A sessions to keep administrators up to date and give course sharing champions time to share student success stories. “We like to share the numbers of the students we’ve helped, but it’s really important to share those success stories of that individual student so that our campus understands our demographics, who we’re helping, and how that impacts them,” added Word.

Jamila S. Lyn of Benedict College encouraged course sharing champions to collaborate and said, “Recognize that course sharing can’t be siloed. Course sharing has to reach across the campus because there’s so many critical units that need to be involved.” 

She and the registrar at Benedict connect before registration and know which students are taking a course and how they need to support them in terms of intervention. Often, they are able to anticipate DWF courses by midterm. 

The team also involves the Student Success Center because they hear what is happening with students in real time, and the teams can work together to respond and help students succeed. Working collaboratively across campus units empowers Benedict course sharing champions to identify the number of seats they may need for faculty unable to teach a course and to proactively schedule students beyond a term and for their respective degrees. 

In serving the modern-day learner, Ms. Lyn emphasized the importance of pivot power bolstered by course sharing. She said, “Heightened flexibility is critically important to keeping students on track. We recognize and honor that our students’s lives and responsibilities have changed tremendously. Students are not just going to school or working. It’s both. We need to accommodate them. Course sharing has been a fantastic solution to aid us in that work.” 

Revolutionizing Education for Modern-Day Learners and Increasing Student Success 

In conclusion, the dynamic landscape of education demands innovative solutions to cater to the evolving needs of modern-day learners. These are just a few of the many ways that our institutional partners have used course sharing to remove common barriers, meet student needs, and serve the modern-day learner. 

Through course sharing, institutions help students more seamlessly and supportively complete prerequisites, creating more flexible options for students who are juggling work, family, and life circumstances. 

Acadeum can also help institutions expand academic capacity with a variety of curricular solutions that both retain and attract students. Acadeum Course Share allows partners to access an inventory of thousands of courses delivered by hundreds of fellow accredited institutions to provide a course requirement that may not be available at the student’s home institution. 

As institutions continue to explore innovative strategies to address the evolving landscape of education, course sharing powered by the Acadeum network stands out as a sustainable and relevant solution. By leveraging this approach, institutions not only facilitate seamless course access but also contribute to the broader goal of increasing student success and retention in the ever-changing realm of higher education.

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