Simpson College Identifies & Retains At-Risk Students Using IntelliBoard Lite with Moodle LMS
Founded in 1860, Simpson College is a private liberal arts college in Indianola, Iowa, that serves the diverse communities of the Midwest with approximately 1,250 full-time and 300 part-time students. Simpson College prides itself on educational excellence through a commitment to its core values of discovery, access, citizenship, belonging, justice, and integrity.
Like many schools worldwide, Simpson College moved to fully online courses for the remainder of the semester when the pandemic hit in March 2020. Luckily, Simpson College already offered some online courses and was relatively well-positioned to make the pivot successfully.
Simpson College already had the Moodle learning management system (LMS) fully implemented and a Zoom contract. Its online program also meant they had staff and faculty familiar with handling challenges around online learning. Simpson College was able to move 238 courses, taught by a combination of 90 full-time and 50 part-time faculty, onto Moodle.
Even with all this in place, an unexpected rapid pivot to 100% remote instruction left faculty with plenty of concerns.
Simpson College quickly realized it had to develop an effective, efficient way to measure student engagement. This was not simply because most of the new online courses were asynchronous, making defining and reporting engagement more difficult.
Simpson College also wanted to make sure students were supported by as many of the college’s resources as they needed to succeed in this unprecedented semester; the team knew it had to collect student engagement data securely, as well as additional data relevant to each at-risk student’s retention, all in one place and promptly get it out to faculty and staff who could help.
Building a Successful Learning Solution
Simpson College already had the integration built between IntelliBoard and Moodle. They now had the opportunity to explore the information the reports within IntelliBoard had to offer.
They found the Course Inactivity Report, which is a report that IntelliBoard offers to all faculty. It pulls data from their learning management system and shows them any students who were not logged in to a course in the past seven days.
Simpson College used IntelliBoard to see which students were engaged both on the individual and course-wide levels. To get this information in the hands of the people that needed it, Simpson College utilized IntelliBoard’s report scheduling feature.
They decided to schedule the report biweekly, using the IntelliBoard CEND (Conditional Event Notification Dashboard) feature, and that would then email it to several parties they have on campus. Using the IntelliBoard CEND feature meant that if students weren’t active in their course, they were automatically included in a biweekly report that went out to faculty and staff that could offer help, particularly the college’s Students of Concern Committee.
Measuring student engagement with Course Inactivity Reports was an excellent first step. Still, Simpson College recognized that simply knowing whether students were logging into their courses was not enough if they wanted to reach out and help the students who might be struggling.
In addition to just knowing that a student in a course isn’t engaged, they wanted to know who is the student’s advisor? Who is their athletic coach? They wanted some demographic information about them, like what state they are in? Different things that would help them provide the best support for that student.
Instructional Designer Manda Gibson, who became Simpson College’s IntelliBoard point person, was taking reports from IntelliBoard, and then data from their student information system, and she was merging two spreadsheets of information using vlookup within Excel, but it was very time-consuming to be doing that. Simpson College already had other integrations of systems where they were using SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) to send data to their operational data store, where they pulled their SQL reports.
Manda then reached out to IntelliBoard with this idea, and they worked on it and found a way to set SFTP as an option for any reports in IntelliBoard. So instead of emailing that report to certain people, Simpson College could SFTP it so the data would merge in their operational data store. They then created SQL reports that would go to the right parties.
Now that this data could be easily compiled and reported, staff and faculty could receive Course Inactivity Reports that showed which students weren’t engaged and crucial information about these at-risk students that made the Course Inactivity Reports more student-centered and actionable.
It became much easier to merge and add more data fields as needed once they did the Intelliboard data integration. They could set up the automated reports and send them to their Dean of Retention and their advisor in the C&G program (Continuing & Graduate program).
These crucial faculty members, as well as Simpson College’s Students of Concern Committee, could then identify at-risk learners and create a plan of outreach and support.
With IntelliBoard’s CEND and SFTP reports, recognizing at-risk students and finding ways to help them become a lot easier for the Committee and the rest of the college. The impact was huge.
Simpson College estimates that the outreach they were able to do due to its student-centered Course Inactivity Report intervention model helped retain at least 38 students who would not have otherwise finished the semester successfully. And that’s just the students who might have dropped out.
Many others had their educational experience improved because they were identified early and able to get the help they needed to thrive during a tumultuous semester. That means a lot to Simpson College, and it means a lot to IntelliBoard.
Building a Long-Term, Strategic Partnership
Simpson College is mainly back to in-person learning now, but they still use their student-centered Course Inactivity Report model they developed during the early days of the pandemic for those courses that are still online. Now that more faculty have adopted Moodle for their in-person courses, faculty are potentially exploring how to use this model for face-to-face classes.