New web interface could become the future of online instruction

KnowU will offer individualized advice for Harrison students.

Indiana’s Harrison College wants to lead the way in online education with a new web interface developed by the school. The interface, which took a little over a year and more than $1 million to develop, is called KnowU.

Harrison College recently launched a microsite ( to enable students to get a feel for what’s to come, said Mark Apple, associate director of public relations.

The interface, which aims to make online learning more “authentic,” will be available to a test group of about 200 students in January.

Steve Brunner, learning solutions architect who helped develop the new interface, said it will help form “a sense of community online.” That’s important, he said, because many students describe traditional online learning as a “very cold environment.”

With Harrison’s new interface, features will be integrated with social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, making the interface feel more familiar to students.

Arlene Haase, campus dean, said the interface will be a great tool for students.

“For students who are on campus, it’s very easy to connect because they see each other face to face,” she said. “This will give students who are totally online the opportunity to connect with each other and to really build that sense of community.”

No matter where students attend college, Apple said, the online experience is essentially the same, because many schools use Blackboard or a similar learning management system that is text-driven with little or no graphics, and limited interaction with faculty and fellow students.

“We believe we can improve educational outcomes, we can improve retention rates, and we can improve graduation rates if we improve the online experience,” Apple said.

Currently, he said, Harrison’s on-campus retention rate is 87 percent, but its online student retention rate is at 80 percent.