Bridging the Gap: Evidence Supporting the Value of the High-Tech/High-Touch Teaching Model to Improve Student Outcomes and Perceptions in Two Introductory Level Courses


Christopher Roddenberry, Wake Technical Community CollegeClaire McElvaney, Wake Technical Community CollegeRobyn Arnette, Wake Technical Community College

Session Abstract

The High-Tech/High-Touch Teaching Model (HTHTTM) is an innovative evidence-based course management protocol designed to improve minority success in online education. It involves the use of low-cost and free tools and an intentional communication strategy. Three high-tech tools: texting, custom-made videos, and web conferencing, allow instructors to personalize themselves and create opportunities for synchronous interaction. Together, these high tech tools and this high-touch communication strategy enhance student engagement and performance in online courses. Minority student success rates in courses taught by HTHTTM instructors were 12% higher than minority success rates in control classes, with success rates for all students in HTHTTM classes five percent higher than for students in control classes. Participants will leave with ideas for creating and assessing innovation in their online programs, as well as a practical example of an engagement enhanced class.

My Notes/Thoughts

High Tech Tools

  • Custom videos
  • Secure texting
  • Web conferencing

High Touch Behaviors

  • Expanded orientation activities
  • Intentional highly responsive communication style
  • Opportunities for synchronous interaction
  • Lots of low risk assignments with quick & detailed feedback
  • Inclusive course shell design

One of the interesting things that Chris mentioned was that the instructors, as part of this grant, are required to respond to student emails within 6 hours of receiving the initial inquiry. There hasn’t been a chance to ask questions yet, but one of the questions that I have is “are there off-limit times?” What if a student emails at 9pm, is an instructor really expected to respond to a question by 3am? And then as a follow-up, what about weekends? These are just questions off the top of my head, it’ll be interesting to see what their perspective is on these.Not only do they assume that the high tech/high touch method is better, but they actually went through the process of quantifying the results. It’s interesting to see the process by which they created the controlled environment. In looking at the results, student success increased (something like 13 points for minority students), instructor presence increased, and overall there was a positive correlation between the high tech/high touch method and student success.One of the anecdotes that was discovered by instructors is that by using the high tech/high touch method is that teaching is more fun now. Students are asking questions that are more about the content of the course, the number of emails has drastically decreased, and instructors were spending time doing of the “fun” parts of teaching.Overall, I think this was a great session. The concepts aren’t anything new, but what I really liked about this session was the process by which they collected the data. I can’t believe I just said that – I’m not much of a research person. But seeing how they created the control vs. treatment groups and some of the results of the student surveys/evaluations was encouraging. And I think one of the best parts was that one of the presenters (can’t remember his name) is self-identified as “not a tech person,” so it’s nice to see that this can work with those types of instructors as well.

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