Better engagement and support of students in hybrid learning environments

YouBthere designs digital tools for colleges and universities to increase and enhance interaction between students and instructors

Christopher Revord, Founder and CEO, YouBthere

What are some of your current observations about hybrid learning programs?

Hybrid, or blended learning programs, have really gained a lot of traction in the last five to 10 years. They’re cost-effective and make up almost 40 percent of higher education course offerings. Colleges and universities need to engage and support students who are working and learning within both classroom and online learning environments. Otherwise they are ignoring an educational experience linked to student engagement and other value-add digital technologies.

How important is it to link student progress in real time to student outcomes centered around retention?

It’s at the heart of what educators need to be doing. Professors, instructors and advisors all want their students to succeed. However, those students who struggle for a passing grade will be disappointed and discouraged at the end of the semester when they receive their final grade. By then, any opportunity for improvement has passed, and the final result is less than desirable. Institutions need to provide proof to accreditation authorities that they are doing all they can to help students succeed. Current research has shown that it is more expensive to find a new student than it is to retain and try to make that student succeed.

How does YouBthere address this need?

YouBthere is tied to the single premise that by increasing student engagement we can deliver improved student outcomes. Our robust all-in-one solution begins with interactive student engagement, data capture and live student assessment, while providing a cost-effective, easy-to-use solution for budget-conscious institutions. We allow instructors and administrators to combine five software applications into one. Our software’s proactive approach creates red flags that are sent out automatically to students in need. Whether the issue is irregular attendance, comprehension of subject material, or slipping quiz and test scores, our real-time assessment formula identifies trouble areas during the semester. It provides information needed to assess and address students’ needs while there is still time to intervene. 

Does this go beyond simply looking at statistical trends?  

I believe that utilizing analytics through robust interactive features within the learning environment is a path to improving student success. The significance of learning analytics is that it’s student-specific. Our software’s exclusive ability to work within both classroom and online learning environments makes us versatile for today’s hybrid students. Learning analytics provides in-depth insight into understanding an individual student’s path to college success. Our software helps prevent poor student outcomes in real time.

What can continued innovation in this space do for higher education?

Student engagement is not new, but utilizing digital smart devices as the driver of engagement is still evolving. To embrace an electronic device that is not integrated, cannot capture or deliver meaningful data, and doesn’t offer identifiers for those students in need is a dead end. As education becomes more digitally based, it is essential that higher education institutions find a quicker method to evaluate relevant digital technologies so as to provide their students, teachers and administrators with the innovative tools they need to enhance and improve the overall educational experience.  We are proud to be nominated for the prestigious Edison Innovation Award for Learning Environments. Previous Edison Award winners include Steve Jobs and Elon Musk. It makes us feel that we are creatively helping education keep pace with the evolving digital technology landscape.

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