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Three LMS Capabilities That Higher Ed CIOs Can Leverage to Improve Student Retention

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It’s no secret that postsecondary institutions are struggling to retain students, especially in the wake of the pandemic. According to a Gartner report, stress, disengagement, and poor grades are the most cited reasons why students drop out, and they offer CIO the following three recommendations to leverage LMS and improve student retention:

  • Create a consistent course navigation experience
  • Propagating the course syllabus
  • Promote the use of the LMS grade book

For those with legacy LMS systems, the Gartner recommendations might make sense, but they don’t include the considerations for the capabilities of a modern learning platform. If you have a legacy learning system, we encourage you to read on to see the capabilities that are being overlooked. 

Create a consistent course navigation experience

Engaging modern students requires a lot more effort than simply providing course templates with a consistent look and feel. 

The real question is why have we set such a low standard for LMSs? And the answer is that postsecondary institutions don’t give much credence to the difference that an engaging user interface makes. As a result, mainstream LMS providers are comfortable staging with the status quo and don’t feel any pressure to step up their game. 

A good example of this is an overwhelming tendency to rely on text-based user interfaces, and ignoring everything that we know about designing a good user experience.Instead of ignoring this problem, the CYPHER  modern learning platform enables institutions to provide a consistent and engaging learning environment from beginning to end, and not just for courses. This keeps students engaged through visual dashboards that they use to find all the required course-related information. It's important that CIOs prioritize the navigation experience as a basic requirement that every LMS should have and find solutions that engage and delight students.

Propagate the course syllabus for disengaged student identification

Not accessing the course or failing to read the course syllabus is a typical early sign of student disengagement, but unfortunately, propagating the syllabus and waiting to see who clicks or doesn’t click on it isn’t enough to solve this complex issue. 

The problem is that instead of proactively identifying issues sooner and being able to anticipate that some students may require more support than others, most  institutions are reactive. For example, generating reports early in the semester and identifying at-risk students is an excellent example of command and control that also adds more manual effort to the instructor’s heavy workload. 

The alternative?  Automation. Specifically, we’re talking about inactivity detection automation that can be fine-tuned per organization and easily facilitated by any platform administrator or instructor. For example, the CYPHER platform allows you to set rules and automatically notify the instructor or administration if a learner hasn’t visited the course or platform in an instructor-specified number of days. This automation is seamlessly built-in, eliminating the need to run reports to see which students are inactive.

Additionally, automated actions triggered by student inactivity enables institutions multiple ways to proactively help at-risk students. For example, a professor can automatically send inactive students a video that explains why it’s important to start engaging with the material early in the semester. 

Lastly, inactivity detection goes beyond detecting a lack of engagement in courses. Inactivity detection allows you to determine rules for site-level inactivity if students don’t log in. Instructors can also use learning tools like gamification to reward students with points and badges for their engagement, and make learning more competitive and fun.

Promote the use of the LMS grade book for early failing student alerts

Although promoting the use of the LMS grade book is an important best practice, detecting failing students based on grades alone probably means that it’s already too late. 

A much better alternative for identifying learning gaps and failures and proactively taking action is a competency-based learning approach. Competency-based learning was designed with the idea that learners prove or demonstrate mastery of a skill or concept before moving on to the next lesson. Competency-based learning allows instructors to associate competencies with automated rules. So for example, if a student’s competency level drops below 50% for more than 20 days, different actions can be triggered including contacting the professor, providing improvement recommendations, or alerting their advisor. The CYPHER platform has fifteen assessment types, including question banks, essays, gamification, and self-evaluation to ensure learners can demonstrate proficiency and competency. 

Although most professors still provide guidance and recommendations for improving face-to-face, failing students, especially in online only-courses, don’t always have easy access to instructors or administrators.Learners can use data specific to their skills and performance to adapt their learning practices. Similarly, trainers and administrators can use captured data to review the needs of individual learners or groups of learners in a course and adapt instruction to those needs.

Assessing competency through a competency-based learning approach is a much more effective way to not just identify the students who are struggling, but also automatically show them how to improve performance.
Using the LMS for engaging and retaining students 

LMSs can effectively support Higher Education institutions whether they’re offering on-campus, hybrid, or online courses. The CYPHER platform offers an intuitive user experience that reduces technology stress and promotes student engagement. It also offers a powerful automation feature that promotes the early detection of at-risk students and allows institutions to create a more engaging learning journey. This benefits students, as they will receive the support they need when they need it, and instructors or advisors as they save time and can instead focus on actually helping students succeed. 

In Summary

For those with dated LMS systems, Gartner’s recommendations definitely make sense, but with a modern learning system, you can do more and achieve better results.

  • Engage students by creating a consistent course navigation experience, but set a higher standard and ensure an engaging learning environment from beginning to end, and not just for courses.
  • Proactively identify and keep at-risk students engaged with automation and enables instructors to be notified and take action sooner.
  • Consider implementing a competency-based learning approach for better identifying learning gaps and failures and proactively taking action. Designed with the idea that learners prove or demonstrate  mastery of a skill or concept before moving on to the next lesson, competency-based learning allows instructors to associate competencies with automated rules and better assess proficiency.

See firsthand how the CYPHER learning platform can benefit your organization by taking a free demonstration.

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