Director of Student Engagement at Marywood University Michael Kalage took the time to share with us his experience with Comevo’s Launch™ Online Orientation and Training software and how Comevo’s Content Coach package definitively and positively impacted Marywood’s quick transition to online.
Tell us about your experience using Comevo’s Launch™ Online Orientation and Training software.
Like many other schools, we had to quickly create a virtual orientation experience for our incoming first-year students during the summer of 2020. As soon as we realized this was necessary, we began exploring various vendors and it quickly became clear that Comevo was the best fit for us. We had constant communication with their staff for scheduled trainings, needed support and we opted to work with their Content Coach – which might have been the smartest decision I’ve ever made! The whole process moved quickly, was collaborative and our orientation came out better than we ever imagined.
How has Comevo’s Launch™ Online Orientation and Training software helped your students?
Comevo allowed us to introduce students to our campus, our staff and all of the resources available to students even when they could not physically be with us on campus. It was a critical— and effective — component in our larger orientation experience and was an easy-to-use, accessible and visually appealing way to share all of the information that students needed to ensure their success as Pacers.
Can you give some examples of how your online orientation has helped you save money? Staff time? Other indirect costs?
The reporting features saved me a lot of time as I was trying to reach out to students who had not yet completed their orientations as the deadline approached. I was thankful that I could see a list of students who hadn’t even logged in to the module yet, compared to students who had logged in and were making progress but just hadn’t completed it yet. I could then focus my efforts on reaching out to the students who had not yet started.
What are some of the advantages you’ve noticed between online vs. in-person orientation?
One advantage of online orientation is that the information remains readily available for students to refer back to. Of course, there are informational handouts and copies of PowerPoints provided during/after in-person orientation, but the bulk of information is shared verbally and would only be available for later reference if someone is a really great note-taker!
Do you have advice for those considering using online orientations for the first time?
If it’s possible with your resources, I would highly recommend working with Comevo’s Content Coach, Jeff Sauer.
Working with Jeff as our Content Coach was definitely the highlight of this experience. He was so helpful, and I honestly looked forward to our meetings each week because he was friendly and fun to talk to. He gave honest feedback and very helpful, insightful and I knew I could run ideas by him or get his input whenever I needed it. He made sure he kept us connected to Comevo’s Customer Care Team and that all of our needs were met quickly. I wish he could help me with all of my projects every day! I can’t say enough kind and positive things about him, and I am so grateful that we had his support this summer.
Switching our entire plan for orientation in a matter of weeks was an overwhelming and daunting task but I felt confident and comfortable every step of the way because I knew Jeff would make sure our orientation turned our great – and it did!
Do you have advice for those who are using or producing online orientations for the first time?
Online orientations aren’t going away after the pandemic, so something I am grateful that we did was to keep information general enough that major changes won’t be needed from year to year. It is one thing if you have a specific date or deadline written in text that you can easily edit, but if you mention these specifics in the middle of your produced videos then there is no easy way to change that besides recording a brand-new video. Of course, your modules will need to continually be updated but there are ways to reduce the cost and effort of what changes are needed.
How is your online orientation helping with COVID-19-related measures and accommodations?
We decided to focus on university information first, such as academic requirements, library services, dining options, etc. and provide relevant COVID-19 updates, changes or precautions at the bottom of each page.
For example, we highlighted our Athletics & Wellness Center and the resources housed within it, and then below that information we pointed out which resources had reduced hours due to the pandemic. I think this was a successful method to relay the information that we typically want to share at orientation each year, but also let students know how COVID-19 was going to impact that given area.
Additionally, it will be easy to remove without changing the flow of the module when the pandemic comes to an end.