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National University to Run Online Student Support Pilot Project

Veteran-founded National University (NU) in San Diego has launched a pilot project with digital community platform InScribe to provide emotional and academic support to students in real time online.

The university hopes the platform will help lead to academic success by providing mentoring and guidance whenever needed and supporting a sense of student belonging.

According to an NU release, the university is launching this project in response to national surveys showing increasing student isolation and lack of social connection as a factor in retention, low academic achievement, and mental wellbeing. With InScribe, students can connect with peers in "learning communities" by taking part in classroom discussion, receiving advice, and celebrating each other's achievements.

"This is about tapping into the power of peers to create a rich and supportive online experience where students benefit from the collective support, experience and encouragement of their classmates," said Errin Heyman, NU's associate vice president of learning experience.

The platform also allows students to connect with faculty and staff to ask questions and obtain resources. Students can also connect with communities not directly related to specific courses, the release said, "encouraging networking and knowledge sharing beyond the classroom and increasing a sense of belonging."

InScribe said its platform can be integrated with university systems already in use: the LMS, courseware, web pages, e-mails, portals, chatbots, and text messages. Its technology assistant, ROSI, flags posts and conversations that need immediate attention. The platform can also build "a living repository of reusable FAQs that grow and adapt automatically," the company said.

Read more on integrations here.

For universities, InScribe provides contextualized analytics, "detailed information about which users, content, and topics are most helpful and popular" across their communities, the company said.

The NU project will involve research and evaluation of the platform's effectiveness by tracking student retention and sense of belonging, the university said. To this end, NU has assigned its Learning Experience team to work with internal research and development experts to test the pilot program on 700 students enrolled in the university's Sanford College of Education.

Visit InScribe's platform page to learn more about how it works.

About the Author

Kate Lucariello is a former newspaper editor, EAST Lab high school teacher and college English teacher.

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