Well, in an effort to conform to the higher education norms, I have asked the faculty to give something else shot: online cohorts.
My built in Mac OS X dictionary tells me that a cohort is:
1 [ treated as sing. or pl. ] an ancient Roman military unit, comprising six centuries, equal to one tenth of a legion.
2 [ treated as sing. or pl. ] a group of people banded together or treated as a group: a cohort of civil servants patiently drafting legislation.
3 often derogatory a supporter or companion.You can take a look at our plan after hitting the link below:
For the purpose of this discussion, let’s assume I am not asking the faculty to create an online military unit (although the military retiree side of me kind of likes that idea), but rather to band a group of folks together who share a statistical characteristic – a student who wishes to graduate with an associates degree within a two-year period. That is what I hope this program will do for some of our students.
We know from our nursing program that cohorts:
- increase the likelihood of completion
- increase completion within two-years
- create a strong bond between faculty and students
- provide an atmosphere of team based learning
- provide a known academic plan
- create a network of support for struggling students
- provide a light at the end of the tunnel
- ability to participate in courses at home/beach/office/coffee house
- ability to participate in courses at any time
- decrease driving time to and from campus
- utilize various technologies to facilitate differing learning styles
- create a network of online learners
- provide a non-traditional and fresh approach to academics
So here’s our plan. We first offer two of our largest programs: business and general education. We chose these for the population base primarily and secondarily because we are authorized by the state to offer the two programs in an online format. We will market these two cohort programs to our current student population as well as those who have have inquired about our online programs. We will use the marketing piece below to spread the word via snail mail.
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Scheduling for the cohorts becomes a trivial issue. The Deans enroll the students into courses already reserved for the cohorts. If seats remain, we will open the courses to our traditional students as well. Again though, the goal is to fill all 25 seats with the cohort, but we have to be realistic and understand that we won’t retain everyone. When a drop occurs, we will allow traditional students to grab the open seats. These students may wish to drop into a later co-hort once they learn and experience a cohort course. This is an option. These students can apply for a later cohort and then simply not have to take that course, thereby lightening their load in a future semester.
Faculty to teach these courses have already been identified over the next couple of years. This becomes a part of their normal loading. Faculty are sure to appreciate this known quantity in their teaching load. The faculty chosen are already online certified and who we consider among the best of our online instructors. We don’t want to just push students through, we want an outstanding academic experience for ours students and we want instructors who will engage completely in the online learning experience.
To add more options, the Deans have created a part-time online cohort tract. If students chose this cohort, they can complete their associate degree in four years. Now for some that may seem like a long time to complete a two-year degree, but when you consider that the majority of our students spend more than four years obtaining their degree, this option begins to look pretty good. It also provides another option should someone in our full-time cohort not be up to the rigor of a the full-time load.
So there’s the program in a nutshell. I’m pretty excited about it and really do think it will pair nicely with our other cohort efforts such as nursing, our Institutes (there’s another blog post), our future honors program and our future accelerated programs.
So will it work? Who knows. You may simply get to add us to the mix of colleges and universities world wide trying to find some plan to help some students graduate. What do you think? Have a question/suggestion about this program? Wanna enroll? :) Drop a comment below.