To work on achieving student retention rate goals, especially for nontraditional students, many universities and colleges are revisiting their orientation programs and courses. Education technology is playing a growing role in that effort, making strides in improving how students are introduced to university life.

Adaptive learning tools and learner analytics are helping institutions revamp their student orientation and provide a better first experience for new students. Here are a few ways edtech can help your institution improve new student orientation sessions and make sure students get all the information they need to succeed:

1.  Use adaptivity to provide personalized orientation experiences

Adaptive edtech enables you to create one orientation course that provides unique, personalized experiences for your varied incoming student population. Learners can traverse differentiated paths based upon factors such as their year, area of study, major(s), transfer status, and more. You can also adapt the course for an individual based on what they’re interested in learning about: student groups, academic resources, work study options, etc.

2. Show students around campus with “Virtual Field Trips”

Virtual Field Trips (VFTs) can be used to introduce students to campus before they even arrive. This can help them visualize their fit and get a feel for where buildings and key resources are located. For distance learning students, VFTs give them a glimpse of your campus life and environment, since they may never see it in person.

Tip: Create VFTs for several different key areas of campus. Allow students to choose which VFTs they’re interested in exploring.

3. Use instructor-friendly tools to make sure you can update orientation information with the speed of change

Some tools require software development knowledge or intense training in order to make changes to existing learning experiences. Other tools are ‘WYSIWYG’ — what you see is what you get — so even instructors and program coordinators without a developer background can update course information. Tools like Smart Sparrow make it as easy as updating a slide of your PowerPoint presentation.

4. Use Learner Analytics to get insight into student understanding

Learner analytics are important for any successful orientation course. By diving into data from an orientation course, you can see what the average student does (or doesn’t) understand, identify at-risk students, and bridge the gap between students and academic advisors. Data can also give you more insight into the makeup of your student population and what students are actually interested in learning about, so you can plan future programming accordingly.

5. Use Analytics to drive continuous improvement of the orientation course

Analytics should also be used to identify room for improvement. Your institution can gather insights such as what students are spending a lot of time on, in order to inform if you need to reword confusing language or add more explanation to important topics.

How is your institution improving student orientation?

Edtech is changing the face of student learning experiences, and orientation is no exception. See how California State University, East Bay revamped their orientation course using Smart Sparrow’s adaptive elearning platform. Read their case study here.