Three ways that CIOs can significantly improve student retention. 1. Proactively identify and engage inactive students. 2. Personalize courses: make them engaging and fun. 3. Create a learning community.
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Top Three Practices for Improving Student Retention in Higher Ed


Improving student retention is a critical goal for Higher Ed as demonstrated by the national college completion rate, which is stalling. A Lumina-Gallup Student Study found that 76% of bachelor’s degree students considered stopping their studies in 2021 due to emotional stress. This study highlighted the burden of working on the student experience — whether on-site, hybrid, or online — as a key factor of their consideration. There are a number of strategies that can be used to increase online learning student retention including providing more resources and support to students, creating a sense of community, and improving the quality of instruction.

In this post, we’ll discuss three ways that CIOs can significantly improve student retention: 

  1. Proactively identify and engage inactive students
  2. Personalize courses: make them engaging and fun
  3. Create a learning community
1. Proactively identify and engage inactive students

Detecting at-risk students on most learning platforms is usually a reactive approach with a singular focus on detecting a lack of engagement in courses. This often means that by the time at-risk students are identified, it is too late to provide them with the real support that they need. Here are three examples of ways that you can proactively identify and support at-risk students. 

Create automated, custom rules for site-level inactivity.

The CYPHER modern learning platform allows you to fine-tune and customize how student inactivity is detected per each organization’s specific needs. Instructors and administrators can create rules to automatically trigger notifications when a learner hasn’t visited the course or platform in a specified number of days. By providing more ways to detect student inactivity via automation triggers, you can go from reacting too late,  eliminate manual activity reports, and more proactively identify and support at-risk students.

Create interactive and engaging content that can be delivered and consumed in bite-sized chunks that make it easier for students to digest and retain material.

Personalize engaging modular and bite-size learning and provide students the ability to customize their learning experience. Modern learning systems with automation make it easier to develop and present engaging personalized content because they leverage modern technologies including mobile, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality that significantly enhance the learning experience.

Get more data-driven insights, track student performance more thoroughly, adapt, and bridge the learning gaps.

Students need more support, more guidance, and access to better resources to not only to complete their education, but to thrive and unleash their potential. CYPHER improves visibility into student performance, allowing both students and instructors to measure progress and quickly identify areas of difficulty and improvement. CYPHER helps you to increase student participation with an engaging and collaborative learning experience that also makes it easier for teachers to provide quicker feedback and encouragement. Finally, modern systems with automation can help to improve overall effectiveness by providing data-driven insights on student performance, allowing instructors and administrators to better measure and evaluate learning effectiveness.

2. Personalize courses: make them engaging and fun

By focusing on the practical application of the course material, students are more likely to retain the information and better understand how it applies to their future. Personalizing learning also makes learning more fun, and keeps students more engaged and motivated to continue learning.

Take a modern competency-based learning approach to skills development

Competency-based learning improves learning comprehension of essential knowledge by personalizing the digital experience with more specific feedback than conventional models, leading to a clearer understanding of a learner’s progress and skills gained over time. The CYPHER platform utilizes a modern competency-based learning approach that allows instructors to connect skills, courses, and careers. For example, a student who wants to become a Software Engineer can see all the relevant skills they need to attain and the courses they need to take to reach their goal.

Validate competency with assessments, eliminate learning gaps, and get granular visibility into learning proficiency and performance

Show students the value of their education every time they take a course by validating competency with accurate assessments. 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. With fifteen assessment types, including question banks, essays, gamification, and self-evaluation, CYPHER ensures that learners can demonstrate competency. CYPHER allows students to use data captured on their skills development and performance data to adapt their learning practices. Similarly,  instructors can use data-driven insights to review the needs of individual learners or groups of learners in a course, identify learning gaps, and appropriately improve instruction.

3. Create a learning community

An important key to successful online learning is social learning, and not all online learning platforms are the same when it comes to fostering social interaction or collaboration. 

Create site-wide groups and discussion forums 

Engage students by creating a robust learning community where they feel like they belong. How do you do that? Provide the ability to interact, network and create social connections with peers and instructors. Groups and forums make it easier for students to connect, communicate and collaborate. The CYPHER platform features both course and community groups where students can connect based on their hobbies and interdisciplinary interests. With CYPHER, students can be automatically enrolled in community groups if administrators automate custom sign-up fields. 

Stay connected to peers and instructors in real time with an activity display that monitors course and group activities on the platform

Without a sense of what’s going on with real-time visibility of activity on the learning platform, many learners feel lonely, isolated, bored, and disconnected. CYPHER uses an unique activity display feature that allows students to view real-time activity on the platform whenever they are on the learning platform. Now when platform users log in, they see community activity across courses and group forums. When learners click into a course or a group tile, an activity widget, a real-time scrolling display of current activity appears on the upper right-hand side of the screen displaying activity at a modular level. This visibility of dynamic real time activity on the platform better connects the community and improves participation and engagement. The activity display also lets students know when peers or instructors are online and available to interact. Students can share ideas, communicate with peers and instructors in real-time and get answers to questions, and gain an on-the-spot understanding of the subject matter. 

Significantly improve student retention rates

The best way to improve student retention and engagement is to create an amazing learning experience that proactively recognizes and engages inactive students, personalizes individual learning experiences, and helps students feel part of a close-knit, robust learning community. The best way to experience the CYPHER learning platform is to try it. Sign up for a free demo below:

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