Universities are offering more and more classes online. But students don't always have all the tools and information they need to succeed. A robust support infrastructure exists for face-to-face students, but those studying at a distance -- particularly in fully-online programs -- don't always have access to the same resources. This was the case the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, an independently-accredited part of the USF System. We decided to figure out how we could bridge this gap. Our goal was to design and build a custom, web-based solution. We believe the product we have prototyped -- and the process we used to build it -- will be of keen interest to many other colleges and universities. We will share lessons learned from both our process and the product we developed. Online students don't always know where to turn for help. Information available is profuse, inconsistent, and requires an understanding of university functions that new students may lack. With careful attention to accessibility, we found a three-pronged approach to address the goals of the portal: A customized chat platform that connects to key points of help A customized search capability that mimics "Google Suggest" A customized set of common questions and solutions that continuously updates to reflect the most sought-after topics
Nelson Poynter Memorial Library. Online Learning and Instructional Technology Services.; Frechette, Casey; Watson, Berrie; and Austin, Sharon, "Support Services for Online Learners at USFSP" (2016). Online Learning Guidelines and Reports. 20.
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