The Student Success Toolbox project has produced a suite of digital readiness tools in order to address the problem of effective transitions and the foundations for student success with a specific focus on flexible learners entering higher education. By flexible learner, we mean any adult learner engaged in part-time or off-campus, online study. Enhancing retention and completion rates for this group of learners, in order to facilitate successful widening of access, is a significant global problem for higher education institutions. The mission of widening access to higher and continuing education is at the heart of the
Student Success Toolbox project. Many flexible learners do not make it through their first year, possibly not even their first few weeks, and tools
are needed to combat this problem. The particular focus of this project is on supporting flexible learners through key transitions in the early stages of the study lifecycle: from thinking about study, to making choices, through the registration process and through their first few weeks of study. After a review of the literature, and the existing readiness tools in use internationally, this project developed a readiness and preparation toolbox that any institution or program team can embed in their own student success framework, in order to help prospective flexible learners who are contemplating higher or continuing education to more effectively prepare themselves for study.
The tools were designed around five overarching principles of supporting self-regulation, personalization, customization, information at the point of need, and language and framing of the tools in the world of the prospective learner. Each tool was developed following an agile project methodology, which involved a cycle of development based on piloting, peer review and getting feedback from existing flexible learners.
The tools can be deployed online where new learners can access them at their convenience. Apprehensions about various topics of concern commonly associated with this type of learner, for example: readiness for study; time management; support; computer skills; producing academic work; are all directly targeted and learners are provided with the necessary assistance in taking their first step toward lifelong learning. The tools are intended to help shape the expectations of those considering study as flexible learners, and also to inform them of how they can best prepare themselves to become successful higher education students. Alongside the tools there is a guide on how to use these technology solutions as part of a strategic socialisation program and, where appropriate, directions on how to technically augment the tools to personalise them for a specific institution, program or cohort of learners. Our goal is to share what we have developed as open educational resources with the most open and accomodating creative commons licence in order to aid other institutions or programme teams in facilitating flexible learner transition into Higher Education. For further information relating to this project please visit our website studentsuccess.ie The Student Success Toolbox project was funded by Ireland’s National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.