How CourseKey Helped DeHart Implement Hybrid Learning, Increasing On-Time Graduation and Placement Rates

With the help of CourseKey, DeHart Technical School went all-in on hybrid learning at the beginning of the pandemic. After seeing success with the program, leaders decided to continue hybrid learning indefinitely, resulting in: 

  • an 11% increase in attendance rate, from 84% to 95% 
  • a 23% increase in on-time graduation rate, from 70% to 93%
  • a 45% decrease in time shaving at the beginning and end of class and during breaks.  

 

When COVID-19 hit, schools across the country, including DeHart Technical School, closed their doors without knowing when they would reopen. DeHart began searching for a way to offer compliant, short-term online learning to students set to graduate within the next two months. But when it became clear that schools would not reopen at full capacity any time soon, DeHart changed its approach and adopted a fully hybrid model. The model proved so successful that DeHart decided to stick with hybrid programs permanently. As Damon Fugett, Director of DeHart Tech, says, “We switched to hybrid and will continue to be hybrid forever.”

 

Learn how DeHart transitioned its hands-on program to a hybrid model while increasing on-time graduation and attendance rates with CourseKey as the foundation of its technology stack.

The Problem: Providing Compliant Identity Data In Online Learning

When the pandemic forced DeHart to close, 15 students were positioned to graduate in fewer than 6 weeks. Damon, DeHart’s Director, and Steven Litt, President and CEO had their minds set on getting those students across the finish line, so they got to work finding an online solution compliant with ACCET standards. 

About DeHart

DeHart is an HVAC/R and plumbing company serving the Modesto, California, area for over 75 years. The company also runs an ACCET accredited clock-hour school training future plumbers, Facilities Maintenance and HVAC/R installers, service and maintenance technicians. The school was founded to train future DeHart employees and has since expanded to place students in companies across Northern California.

While Dehart Tech determined Zoom was the right visual tool for its instructors and students, it needed a compliant way to verify, prove, and record student identity while preserving their privacy. He explored Google Classroom and Microsoft teams but found he couldn’t verify student data to accreditor requirements. He also had concerns about the visibility of student data when instructors share screens using these programs. 

 

“Where these other tools failed is that they spent so much time on the ability to change color and fonts that it sacrificed identity verification and quality on the video stream,” said Damon. For career colleges, high-quality identity and attendance verification is critical to remaining in compliance.

The Solution: CourseKey and Zoom

After a quick search, Damon found CourseKey’s technical school management software. He initially selected CourseKey for its accurate and verifiable attendance solution. Students clocked in for synchronous online courses using CourseKey’s QR/Fingerprint/Face ID scanner, a flexible mobile replacement for the biometric scanner DeHart had previously used in-person on-ground. To ensure student engagement throughout the lecture, instructors required that students show their faces at least every 10 minutes. If they didn’t show their face, instructors kicked them off the call and logged them out of CourseKey, and they didn’t accrue time for non-participation. 

 

Through CourseKey’s verifiable data, Zoom, and incredibly dedicated instructors, those initial 15 students earned the qualified hours they needed to graduate.

Optimizing for Hybrid Learning

After these students graduated, DeHart knew it had a robust way for students to earn hours online, giving them the confidence to go all-in on hybrid learning moving forward. Leaders were optimistic that a hybrid model would be the best option for their students while being safe and conducive to productive learning. 

 

With a proven way to track student attendance in any environment using CourseKey, DeHart Technical optimized other parts of its campus for successful, interactive hybrid learning. The school renovated its spaces to allow for proper social distancing between indoor and outdoor workstations. CourseKey’s mobile QR-code attendance solution gave DeHart Tech the flexibility to adapt to every learning environment—online, outdoors, and indoors—without sacrificing data accuracy or increasing administrative burden.

A Shift in Culture

Before DeHart Tech transitioned to hybrid learning, students would often stretch their breaks, arrive late to class, and chat for a while before starting class. When lecture classes moved online, students arrived on time and remained engaged throughout the online sessions because they knew they’d have to catch up if they fell behind on hours. They were also more engaged in the in-person labs because they had dedicated time to do the physical training they preferred. Students immediately took more accountability over their progress towards graduation because they could see an up-to-date record of earned hours in their student portal. Damon believes that transitioning to hybrid learning made students more engaged in their program while doubling the amount of training compared to an on-ground setting—and he has the data to back it up. 

 

“My placement rates prove it. My employer satisfaction surveys prove it. My student satisfaction scores prove it. My starting salaries prove it. My graduation, attendance, and participation rates are all positive,” said Damon.

Improving Outcomes With Hybrid Learning

DeHart’s early investment into hybrid learning paid off, and it plans to keep the program hybrid indefinitely. By investing in the right tools to run an effective hybrid program, Dehart: 

  • Increased student enrollment. Because students only need to be onsite three times per week versus five, they’re willing to drive from up to four hours away to attend the well-respected program. 
  • Increased attendance rate from 84% to 95% 
  • Increased on-time graduation rate from 70% to 93%
  • Decreased time shaving at the beginning and end of class and during breaks by 45% 

Damon credits the success of hybrid learning to selecting high-quality tools built specifically for his needs. At the beginning of the pandemic, DeHart Tech leveraged CourseKey simply as a replacement for his biometric scanner. Then, as he transitioned to a hybrid model, CourseKey helped him manage his school across learning environments.

“CourseKey specifically allowed me to have a smoother way to handle enrollment management. CourseKey is not just for clocking in and out. This product helps me manage my school, courses, and students.”

Damon Fugett

For Damon and DeHart this means: 

  • Setting up multiple registrations and times: DeHart traditionally has morning, afternoon, and evening classes, but sometimes students will drop in at a different time. CourseKey allows him to easily roster match across time blocks and add/drop students, giving him more control over student behaviors. When students are not attending their assigned times, Damon can catch them on the dashboard and through reporting and contact them early on. 
  • Run reports from CourseKey to track student absences. As a small school, instructors will alert Damon if a student is absent, but CourseKey allows for an extra safeguard to determine the exact LDA. A benefit since students may switch between times. Staff cross-checks student absences with students attending the incorrect time to determine if they were absent or simply not where they were supposed to be.
  • Less time spent chasing students who missed assessments. If an assessment goes out via CourseKey on a Monday Zoom lecture, instructors pull a report on absent students. Then, when students arrive on site the next day, Damon can easily pull students aside and have them complete assessments before they are allowed in the onsite lab. 
  • Catch potential compliance issues and implement new policies. Some students are more honest than others. CourseKey’s trackable assessment feature allowed Damon to catch students who were not honest on quizzes by identifying each quiz session’s beginning, end, and duration. When he discovered that a student would open the quiz on Monday, not take it, and attempt to retake it on Friday after the answers had already been posted, he changed school policies to add a session duration, preventing future dishonesty.

“CourseKey has allowed us to do the same thing consistently across every group in a hybrid learning environment. Zoom by itself doesn’t do any of that. None of that cross-checking exists as a capability within different environments.”

Scaling with Software

Using CourseKey’s technical school management software, DeHart Technical School excelled through the pandemic, helping students achieve their goals through a period of great uncertainty. Damon credits the success of the program to dedicated students, hardworking instructors, and the right technology. He believes that choosing the right technology is critical for career colleges operating in all learning environments. 

 

“It’s this simple: It took me a week to find CourseKey, a week and a half to get a contract in place, and two weeks to get everything completely set up. If the right product for my students is out there, it’s my job to find it and vet it. It’s a school’s job to support students, and CourseKey helps me do that.”

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