All Students Phase 2

Phase 2 What do student need upon registering for their first online course through week 2 of the semester?

  • Orientation to college (might happen earlier)
  • Orientation to online learning
  • How to Contact the help desk
  • Develop necessary technology skills (how to use the course management system & more)
  • Buying books
  • Using online library
  • Selecting and registering for courses (prior to semester)
  • How to access support services
  • Student Mentor
  • Orientation to online learning community

What else do online students need to know beside what is listed above?
*Students need to know that a fellow student who faced similar learning challenges is available to them for organizational and moral support. Students would be assigned a student mentor , preferably from their area of study.

*Students may benefit (either prior to or after enrollment) from the presence of an obvious, easy-to-find community of past and present online learners. Serving a slightly different primary function from the mentor concept, but possibly overlapping that as well, such a community might be even more responsive in terms of time or depth to prospective and beginning student questions, and may give a broader perspective to any answer. As well, it may prove useful to learn from for the institution itself, which (if it's smart) will view such a community as a means of continuing feedback on the distance program.

*Phone number and location of distance learning office
*What to do if online learning is not for them
*When the course starts
*How many posts are required
*How grading will be determined
*Graded Assignment Document
*How to retrieve login/password if forgotten
*How to report an issue with a professor- such as: grading error, no response from professor, etc…
*Tutoring services if taking an online course at a local institution
*bill payment options
*withdrawal/drop dates and procedure
*Student ID number
*Student life or online support groups
*Comprehensive list of contacts at the college that can assist them with various issues, etc.
*If any additional programs or technologies will be required throughout the course
*Format of tests and quizzes (if there are any)
*How to share accommodations with the professor
*How to take exams online, including how to avoid 'lock outs'. Especially important is students have older computers or have anxiety around testing.

Who will assume responsibility for delivering these services?

*This service could be offered through various Student Affairs office. The Center for Academic Advisement and Disability Services come to mind because I am most familiar with these departments.

*Once a prospective student becomes an enrolled student, the absolute need for a singular oversight entity relents. Prior to enrollment, the focus must be on a unity of experience for the shopping student (see phase 1) but once the focus has shifted from enrollment to classes, students will more likely tolerate inefficiencies between the parties delivering services. Here, it becomes more logical for, say, a technology help desk to be fully staffed and managed by the IT department alone, while more dedicated student-services personnel may handle student advising completely independently as well.

*academic advisor
*individual online instructor
*IT person
*Departmental Dean- in the case of an issue that cannot be handled by "front office"
*Business Office for bill payment questions
*Retention officer
*Student Services Director
*(All departments at the college.
*Disability Services
*IT or Media department supervising online software program (i.e. Blackboard Coordinator)

What is the best delivery method for these services?

*New students and mentors could sign on to a portal for a chat site.
*Post-enrollment, students can begin to make use of "on the inside" resources such as a secured BlackBoard implementation, and collaborative tools such as Elluminate Live, internal email and instant messaging, etc. In general, though, online delivery will likely be most effective when available via a variety of Web tools to accommodate people's different preferences.
*Office of distance learning home page
*Could create general information that is included in the template of each course
*announcement page in course management system
*personal or college email
*voice recording on the announcement page
*graded assignment document
*Orientation catalog- listing FAQ's
*Class Schedule
*Letter for ID or Pin
*College blog for new and returning students
*Online modules and podcasts for online learners
*Follow up with the student via phone once course has begun
*Static posting on each course website along with email announcement to students the first week

How to these resources contribute on online succcess?

Although communication would be online, student mentoring would provide a personalized connection to online learning. Where lack of motivation, frustration and isolation may dampen online success, a student mentor may provide the more intimate support necessary for academic success.

The more information the online student has, the more they will potentially succeed and have their questions answered.

Perhaps part of developing technology skills could include helping students try to troubleshoot their own problems before calling the help desk.

Many students who are taking online courses are afraid because this is an entirely new concept for them. They need encouragement and reassurance that they are not "alone" and that their questions/concerns are valid. Keeping a log of FAQ's will enable staff to know what are recurring issues so that in the future, they can provide this information up front- thus alleviating much of the burden off of students.

Students won't be able to succeed if they don't know what is expected of them, due dates, and how to access resources. Need confidence that they can succeed in this new method of delivery

The more information the better - students need to be equiped to take charge of their college education and be empowered regarding the process and how to succeed. The items listed above do exactly this … educated them about the resources and tools that can help them greatly in succeeding not only as an online student, but a collge student.

The information needs to be in a format that is simple and accessible. Too many words can overwhelm any learner.

Communicating services, support and responsibilities is key to getting students to be able to build success in online courses initially but doing it in a way that does not get lost in the sea of text or other written communication is important.

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