The Online Learning Consortium (OLC), a collaborative community of higher education innovators, recently released the OLC Quality Scorecard for Online Student Support, a self-evaluation tool for higher education institutions.

The OLC designed the scorecard to help higher education institutions identify gaps in their services -- and to improve support for online students.

The scorecard examines 11 areas of an institution's effectiveness: admissions, financial aid, pre-enrollment advising, veterans services, career counseling, orientation, post-enrollment services, library, disability services, technology support, and graduate student services.

Jennifer Mathes, PhD, chief strategy officer at the Online Learning Consortium, said, "The most difficult part of providing excellent online student support institution-wide is achieving cooperation from the diverse service areas across the institution."

She added, "Our new scorecard overcomes this challenge by acting as an internal conversation starter which helps an institution coalesce around a commitment to providing the same level of support to their online learner community as those who are on campus."

The OLC designed the scorecard with the State University System of Florida and the Florida College System.

Victoria Brown, Assistant Provost for eLearning at Florida Atlantic University said, "Several big ideas drove the development process of the student support scorecard. Among these was the desire to provide a comprehensive review of the entire academic life-cycle of a student at the institution, starting from the first indication of interest in attending, all the way through graduation. Other considerations included expanding access to the services that on-campus students receive, providing an online academic experience, and increasing engagement between online students and the institution."