Design Student Orientation for Your Online Course

Let’s think about a situation. In the beginning of semester, you have 40 students in your online course. Those students come from diverse backgrounds with different level of experience for online learning. Some students may only take 1 or 2 online courses before, but some may never. In your online course, you will have asynchronous (e.g., online discussion, assignment submission, online quiz) and synchronous (e.g., online meeting using Adobe Collaborate) sessions. How will you prepare your students to take this online course? Undeniably, orientation for online students is important. However, what aspect will you consider important to help your students quickly get used to online learning environment? The author in this journal paper explained a process to create an online student orientation. In this blog post, analysis and design phases to create online student orientation will be described in details.

Analysis Phase

In the analysis phase, the author and her coworkers identified the needs and set up the goal for student orientation in online courses. 4 objectives have been identified and were included in the student orientation: 1) understanding of online learning, (2) learning management system (e.g., BrightSpace in GSU, Blackboard in the author’s school), 3) technical issues involving in learning management system, and 4) understanding of learning skills and ability required for online learning.

Design Phase

Based on 4 objectives above, the four modules were designed. These four modules may cover multiple things in an online student orientation. As an instructor in online courses, you may customize these things to meet your instructional needs and help your students get used to online learning quickly.

Module 1 “What is the nature of online learning?” was designed to help students understand the nature of online learning environment. The module consisted of 1) learning environment, 2) assignments, 3) online communication, 4) learning resources (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. What is the nature of online learning?

Figure 1. What is the nature of online learning?

Module 2 “How to learn in Blackboard” was designed to help students how to navigate and learn in their online course via learning management system. The learning management system that the author used in her school was Blackboard. Figure 2 shows a list of possible functions and tools using in online courses.

Figure 2- How to learn in Blackboard

Figure 2- How to learn in Blackboard

Module 3 “What are the technological requirements to take an online course?” was designed to introduce necessary technological requirements to take an online course. In Figure 3, four aspects have been identified in module 3: 1) access your online course, 2) technology requirements for using Blackboard, 3) software requirements for an online course, and 4) technical problem solving.

Figure 3- What are the technological requirements to take an online course?

Figure 3- What are the technological requirements to take an online course?

Module 4 “What learn skills and motivation are necessary for online learning?” was designed to help students self-determine their readiness to take an online course. In this module, students were provided a survey to ask their beliefs about individual capability to take an online course. This survey includes items about students’ beliefs in personal capabilities to 1) complete an online course, 2) interact with classmates for academic purposes, 3) interact with instructor, 4) plan, monitor, evaluate and adjust learning tasks, 5) use tools in learning management system, and 6) interact with others (e.g., classmates, instructors, TAs) for social purposes.

Source: Cho, M. H. (2012). Online student orientation in higher education: a developmental study. Educational Technology Research and Development, 60(6), 1051-1069.

Posted in #trending, Instructional Design
29 comments on “Design Student Orientation for Your Online Course
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