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Enhancing Learner Engagement with Data-Driven Design 

  • 3 Min Read

We’ve offered online programs at South University for almost two decades. During that time, we’ve worked hard to make sure that our online courses are flexible, engaging and impactful. This way, we can help adult learners fit their studies around their busy schedules and gain the skills, knowledge and qualifications they need to develop their careers.

sara portoulas
Sara Portoulas

Director of Training, South University

Katie Ramos
Katie Ramos

Instructional Designer, South University

suzanne_gamble
Suzanne Gamble

Instructional Designer, South University

topics

Our team of instructional designers has refined the art of course creation over the years, with a focus on designing content that delivers the best outcomes for students. Incorporating Data Hub allowed us to access granular reports on learner performance across our courses. We discovered that some learners were spending quite a bit of time engaged in the course content, but their performance on assignments and assessments was not reflective of that.

It was obvious to the instructional design team that updating the content was necessary. At the time, D2L had just launched Creator+, and we were eager to incorporate it into our course design. To test whether Creator+ could help improve learner outcomes, we decided to run a results-focused pilot that incorporated data and results from Data Hub.

Our goal was simple: compare learner outcomes on the existing version of a course module with a brand-new version of the same module that we designed using Creator+. To gather meaningful data, we minimized the number of variables that could impact learner outcomes. We focused our evaluation on three weeks of content from the five-week course: weeks three, four and five. All the weeks included in the pilot contained graded assignments and discussions.

As well as focusing on these three weeks, we compared learner grades against time spent on course content from a total of six cohorts. The first three cohorts completed the course content from the existing version of the module, while the remaining three cohorts completed the version of the module that we redesigned using Creator+. Crucially, we selected cohorts that had all been taught by the same instructor so that the instructor would function as a control during the pilot.

We were incredibly impressed with the results. We saw a higher proportion of learners achieving A and B grades in the three cohorts that took the course modules designed using Creator+. Learners from the Creator+ pilot cohorts also typically spent much less time working through the course content compared with the other cohorts, while achieving higher overall grades. This statistic really jumped out at us, as it enabled us to gauge the effectiveness of the changes made using Creator+ on the learners’ overall experience in the course.

Pleased with our findings, we’ve since expanded the use of the Creator+ tools to more of our courses, including South University’s online programs, and staff and faculty training and development. By combining Data Hub and Creator+, we can harness data-driven insights to build high-impact courses that help our learners develop the skills they need to advance their careers.

Programs, credential levels, technology, and scheduling options vary by school and are subject to change. Not all programs are available to residents of all U.S. states. Administrative office: South University, 709 Mall Boulevard, Savannah, GA 31406-4805. © 2024 South University. All rights reserved.

Written by:

sara portoulas
Sara Portoulas

Director of Training, South University


Katie Ramos
Katie Ramos

Instructional Designer, South University


suzanne_gamble
Suzanne Gamble

Instructional Designer, South University

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