Use mobile communication technologies to increase students’ feelings of connectedness and instructor support
Use of mobile communication technology in the higher education setting is still a relatively new area of study. On brick and mortar campuses, students who have face-to-face interaction with their professors and peers can often be seen texting or “tweeting” between classes or in class. Such mobile messaging usage in class can be very distracting, but for online institutions use of social media tools within online classrooms may serve to mitigate factors that impact student persistence, and the student’s feeling of connection to the university, to the instructor, and to fellow students. According to Moore, Sener & Fetzner (2009), barriers to online success include students’ lack of motivation due to “impersonal, irrelevant, boring, one-size-fits-all page turners” (p. 87). In fact, Berge and Huang (2004) concluded that strengthening the relationships between bureaucratic, academic, social and external (life, work, family, and socioeconomic circumstances) interactions is critical to retention. Callaghan and Bower (2012) also showed that social media within the online courses led to an increase in the student’s level of activity within the online classroom. They also found that this higher level of activity was directly related to deeper levels of student satisfaction. The use of social media and other forms of mobile messaging tools could also be used to address access, learning effectiveness, and student satisfaction, which are three of the Online Learning Consortium’s (OLC) Five Pillars of Quality for Online Education (Online Learning Consortium, 2015).