John McClaughlin: Coordinator of Online Orientation Programming shares his experience with Comevo

  • Tell us about your experience using Comevo’s Launch orientation software?

My experience with Comevo’s Launch orientation software has been excellent. The software is robust and very user friendly. It makes building an engaging and attractive online orientation a breeze. Software features are continually refined and enhanced, and the support is by far the best I’ve experienced among a variety of higher education software products I work with.

  • How has Comevo’s online orientation helped your students? Can you share any feedback you’ve received from students?

Feedback from the student survey built into our online orientation tells us that many students appreciate that the online orientation allows them have a much fuller understanding of the many supportive student services and resources available to them before they begin their classes. Students also like that they can use the orientation as a continuing resource, to refresh their understanding of specific topics and resources.

  • Can you give some examples of how your online orientation has helped you save money?

In conversations with other institutions who do not use Launch, I’ve learned that the development and management of their online orientation programming takes several team members. Because Launch contains such a robust and easy to use toolset, and because such great support is provided, as a “team of one” I’m able manage our institution wide online orientation, as well as develop, deploy and manage a growing number of academic program specific online orientations.

I can also share that the orientation has helped our institution improve revenue. Institutional data results demonstrate our student retention rate has risen considerably since we implemented our online orientation.

  • What are some of the advantages you’ve noticed to online vs. in-person orientation?

UMA has two campuses, eight stand-alone learning centers, and forty learning sites across the state. Meanwhile 49% of our students are online. Having such a diverse institutional footprint makes attending a live on campus orientation challenging for a high percentage of our students. Launch removes that challenge by providing 24/7 access to the orientation from any location with an internet connection.

Another advantage is that if they prefer to, online orientation participants can complete their orientation through several sittings. Being able to leave the orientation and then return later to where they left off is a great option for students who lead busy lives.

  • Do you have advice for those considering using online orientations for the first time?

My primary advice is “Go for it!” Most in-person models have a schedule segment where participants choose between various workshops or information sessions. The online orientation is an avenue to getting all of your important information and resources in front of students. It’s a real opportunity for you to have better prepared students arriving on campus or online, students that feel more settled in as they begin their student experience with you.

  • Do you have advice for those who are using or producing online orientations for the first time?

    • Hold planning meetings early on, and be sure to include student voices in your planning
    • In your planning think “What’s the story we want to tell?”
    • Visit other online orientations. Getting a sense of how others tell their orientation story can help you decide how you’ll tell yours
    • Consider using an active and friendly “you” voice. In my opinion that is much more engaging than using a passive, formal voice
    • Have lots of good photos and video content
    • Keep those videos short due to current online and social media driven attention spans!
    • Know that the Comevo support team is there to help with your orientation building questions, both large and small
  • How is your online orientation helping with Covid-19-related measures and accommodations?

UMA typically offers online orientation and in-person orientation options. The Covid-19 landscape has led us to forego holding in-person orientations this fall. We as an institution certainly take comfort in knowing that despite losing our in-person orientations, all of our new students will be able to get settled in to UMA by experiencing our online orientation.