2020 was an interesting year to say the least. Overnight the Higher Education community had to rethink how they were doing things, switching to online formats at a breakneck speed with the tools they had on hand such as Zoom or their LMS.
It’s become clear that Online Orientation is a service that schools need moving forward but what a school uses is becoming more important, something that people are paying more attention too.
The question is should a school upgrade to an Online Orientation Software or stick with the LMS Orientation Module that they have?
Is it worth it to just deal with the LMS and its problems if it works well enough? Or is a school losing out on an important opportunity by sticking to what they know?
1) Student Success and First Impressions
We are dealing with a batch of students that are feeling wary about what their new school year will bring. Many of these students are feeling disappointed with being stuck online and are notably low on patience.
Drop out rates for first year students are already high with an average of 30% of students dropping out before their sophomore year, and the economic pressures of Coivd-19 are not helping that number. According to Education Data’s article lost tuition revenue from students dropping out collectively cost Higher Ed institutions an yearly average of $16.5 Billion dollars. This means schools have a big incentive to reduce that number.
A lot of students are questioning if the decision to start college now and deal with online classes is a wise one. With Orientation being their first stop, it needs to connect with these students and assure them that they will have a good experience regardless of circumstances.
These students are also doing a lot of self-guided learning and would benefit from something cohesive and energetic so that they don’t feel like they are being left to their own devices.
Online Orientation in an LMS has to be broken up into segments which is evocative of school assignments instead of that energetic group experience. It’s not kinetic or personal, but often isolating where as a video module feels like a group experience. LMS’s are designed to be utilitarian. There isn’t much personalization to its system and so schools have a much harder time communicating that sense of belonging and excitement.
2) Easy of Use for Students
With LMS Orientation, there isn’t a clear path forward. Most students haven’t used this sort of system before and aren’t always sure on how to navigate it. With it’s lack of funneling, it’s easy to miss a step or get lost.
The LMS module expects students to be able to navigate it on the first try. Orientation is the first stop in the onboarding experience, and to be given something that could feel like a puzzle to a first Gen or non-traditional student isn’t going to help them feel welcomed.
Mika Nash in a US News article says that “Often learning management systems are not as intuitive as you might imagine”. She goes on to say that students who get to know their LMS are less likely to fall behind, that they do need time to explore the system. But expecting them to figure it out during Orientation does not help with first impressions, especially of online learning.
In contrast, an Online Orientation Software’s video module has a clear path forward. Surveys and quizzes are built into the module so that students are more likely to complete them, increasing feedback and engagement.
Video Modules can be adapted to different cohorts, connecting with veteran, first generation, or non-traditional students specifically so they can know what resources are available to them.
3) Ease of Use for Admin
Having a video module software that is built to handle the level of traffic and the content that an Online Orientation entails means a smoother experience for the user and for the admin creating the module.
You aren’t off-roading, trying to make the system you have work. There is a road map and a customer care department to help you out if your team gets stuck. But more than anything, our software was designed for Orientation. It provides an easy to use, easy to implement, consistent experience.
Online Orientation is no longer new. We are moving out of the grace period when all of this change started and are shifting into the next stage as standards of practice are starting to solidify.
With the weight that Orientation is carrying these days, it’s important to have a proper welcome set up for students so that they feel connected and motivated. Online Orientation needs to be a smooth experience that assures students that they will have support and guidance instead of just being left to figure things out on their own. The first impressions here will let students know what the next year will look like and the level of care that they will receive which is why the Online Orientation Experience should be done with the right tools.