Enhancing student retention rates on open non-formal online language learning courses
Open non-formal online courses are becoming increasingly popular as a self-paced option for learners. However, the attrition rates for such courses, similar to other online options such as MOOCs, can be high. In this exploratory research study two teacher-researchers reflect on and analyse their experience of creating open non-formal online courses for English language learners, and go on to suggest several practical techniques to decrease the number of students that may drop out. Firstly, the wider reasons why online students may drop out, such as insufficient feedback or the impact of cognitive overload, are discussed and several ways are suggested to get around these issues. Secondly, various principles of instructional design such as keeping lessons consistent but variable, relevant, and divided into manageable chunks are recommended. Finally, a number of ways that videos can be made more engaging are shown, especially focusing on how a talking head can be best portrayed in order to give the clearest information and develop a more personalised teacher presence. Although the data and analysis are focused on open non-formal online courses the findings and discussion are of relevance to other forms of online instruction and multimedia learning.