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Ohio University to use a new communication platform to help students

Ohio University is in the process of implementing a new program available to students and faculty that would help students strive toward graduation.

MyOHIO Success Network, a program powered from Starfish Retention Solutions by Hobsons, is a retention management platform. That means it provides the technology for OU to develop an information and communication “hub” to help our students, Loralyn Taylor, director of analytics for University Student Success Initiatives, said.

For students, the program is used to provide “helpful information and resources to successfully complete their degrees.” Faculty members and advisors can also use the program to be more proactive in reporting concerns about students so student services and other programs can reach out to help those students more effectively, Taylor said.

“The idea is to identify when a student might be becoming at risk of academic difficulties so that you can identify that student and get them to the right support service,” she said. 

OU selected the Starfish technology and began implementing the MyOHIO Success Network last summer, Taylor said. All students attending the regional campuses and new students on the Athens campus were added to the network.

“But, this fall is the first time almost all 30,000 undergraduates at the entire university are in the system,” she said.

That semester, the university did a “pre-midterm progress survey” to gauge how the program is being used so far. 

On the Athens campus, 6,353 students received feedback on their classroom performance, 40 percent of faculty completed performance surveys of their students and 12,979 items were raised with 61 percent of them being positive feedback.

Before the university begins to communicate with students about this program, Taylor is working with Jenny Klein, the assistant dean for student persistence and success, to train staff and faculty, she said.

“What we didn’t want to do was get the students into the system when faculty and their advisors weren’t because then it is not as helpful for them,” Taylor said. 

To run that program, it costs $4 per student. While OU students are a part of the OHIO Guarantee, that means the university is not allowed to raise fees, therefore funding for the program is found through the redistribution of internal money, according to Taylor.

Other universities in Ohio are using the program such as the University of Cincinnati, University of Dayton, Cleveland State University, University of Findlay and several others.

When it comes to students’ privacy, the entire system is FERPA compliant, Taylor said.

“An instructor can only see what they report on a student,” she said. “They can’t see what students are doing in their classes or anything like that.”

If a student is not attending classes, their instructor can report it using the system. 

There is also online scheduling available for meetings with faculty, advisors and offices that are using the online scheduling option, Taylor said. If a student has a concern, they can report it through the system and will receive an immediate email back with suggestions on how to move forward.

Students can also find a list of all university offices and support services along with contact information, Taylor said.

Sydney Richardson, a junior studying psychology, said having the program would be helpful.

“It would be nice so students have more support,” she said. “This way professors will show they understand, and students will feel more comfortable reaching out.”

Taylor Woodyard, a junior studying chemistry, does not think the program has any use to students.

“The professor could just email the student instead,” Woodyard said.

Loralyn Taylor said she is excited about continued implementation of the program.

“What's really important for us is that we have instructors and advisors in the system so that it's useful to students,” she said.


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