Winning With Mobile: Part 2

Welcome to the second part of “Winning With Mobile”, our blog series that takes an in-depth look at the core features of CourseKey and the benefits that result from them. You may have guessed from the word scramble in part one that we will be covering our “SOCIAL” features in today’s post.

While CourseKey can help your school become more efficient and more compliant by digitizing administrative processes, it’s important to remember who this is all about: the students. Students perform their best when they have constant access to support from instructors and staff, and CourseKey’s social features facilitate those interactions. We’ll illustrate how CourseKey helps establish learning communities that create better learning environments for students, build stronger in-class relationships, and increase overall student retention — all through the devices students carry to class. Our social features include two separate functions that are invaluable contributors to building learning communities: “Ask A Question” and “Chat.”

But first, what exactly is a learning community? A learning community is an inclusive environment where students feel like they’re progressing through a course as a cohesive group instead of as a collection of individuals. Research proves that students who interact more with each other in learning communities generate a sense of pride being part of a close-knit unit, motivating them to perform at their best. And if complications do arise and students fall behind, those who are part of a learning community will strive to work hard to get back on track instead of feeling isolated and dropping out completely. Institutions like public four year universities already have strong, ingrained learning communities as a result of abundant opportunities to interact with peers outside of class. However, most for-profit schools are limited in physical space and thus don’t have the same chances for their students to connect with each other outside of the classroom. CourseKey aims to help career colleges build a strong sense of community through our social features.

Ask A Question

By giving students a way to pose a question for instructors to answer through the app, students are empowered to ask questions without feeling embarrassed or disruptive. Instructors can answer the questions when they have time and all responses are stored in the app for future reference.

As a recent college graduate, I experienced the fear of embarrassment hindering my learning on multiple occasions. And I know I wasn’t the only one. There have been many times that a question about the course material came to my mind during a lecture, but I was hesitant to raise my hand for a few reasons. For one, I didn’t want to disrupt the rhythm of the instructor’s lecture. Some instructors specifically ask for questions to be asked at the end of lecture so that they can get through all of the material they planned to cover for that day. Two, I didn’t want to speak up in front of a lecture hall full of my peers. What if I just missed some information and my question was stupid? The fear of embarrassing myself in front of my peers eclipsed my desire to know the answer to my question. I figured, I’ll just ask a classmate after the lecture. I would’ve greatly appreciated CourseKey’s option to privately submit a question for my instructor to answer later. An option like that would’ve allowed me to get my question out of my head so that I can continue to follow along with the lecture. Plus, I would receive an answer by the end of the day, if not by the end of class, which would help me grasp the content of the lecture before falling too far behind.

CourseKey’s “Ask A Question” function shows students that asking questions is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it’s a good thing! Not only will it help students learn, it will give them the confidence to contemplate the course material and ask questions in the future, instead of simply accepting what has been presented to them. If students don’t feel comfortable attaching their name to a question they’ve submitted, they can ask questions anonymously. Plus, the “Ask A Question” capability allows instructors to understand what parts of their lecture students are having trouble with, giving them added insight into where they can improve.

Creating a channel for students to submit questions to instructors fosters a stronger relationship between instructors and students. Students are able to create a more personal connection with instructors, which gives them extra motivation to perform even better. In addition, students have a channel to connect with instructors when class is not in session. Instead of writing emails, which could get buried in inboxes, students can utilize “Ask A Question” to get in touch with their instructors outside of class.


Every course using CourseKey has its own chatroom associated with it occupied by the instructor and the students. Students use chat to ask questions, share information, and discuss course material with classmates, whether class is in session or not. In addition, it gives instructors another way to reach everyone enrolled in their class via mobile devices. Some instructors have been using the course-wide chat to send reminders, updates, and announcements about the course. When I was a college student last year, my classmates and I would use non-school approved platforms to connect with each other. For example, we set up Facebook groups that people could join (if they even knew the groups existed) where we would share resources and ask questions about the material. That worked fine, but only when someone in the class stepped up to create the group and only if a majority of the class was part of it. CourseKey’s chat function creates a platform for everyone involved to communicate, including the instructor. No student gets left out, and everyone stays on the same page.

More Interaction Yields Better Outcomes

So far, across 90 campuses nationwide, students have asked over 57,000 questions to instructors and over 97,000 chat messages have been sent. CourseKey gives students a way to communicate with each other and empowers them to confidently ask questions about course material they’re struggling with. Studies show that frequent and quality interaction with faculty, staff, and peers has proven to be an independent predictor of student persistence. As students learn and make friends, greater social integration is created and institutions can experience better learning outcomes. CourseKey makes it possible to achieve frequent and quality interactions. Creating learning communities through social interaction features can improve the education experience for students and instructors, resulting enhanced learning outcomes and increased student retention.

Next week, we will cover a CourseKey feature that is extremely important to, and indicative of, student success found in this jumble of letters: SMSTSESANES

If you missed part one, feel free to go back and read it here. Don’t want to wait for parts 3-6 to discover the many ways CourseKey benefits your institution? Book a demo with a member of our team by clicking the button below.

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