All Students

Phase 1 - Prior to enrollment online students need information about:

  • Demands of online learning
  • Admissions
  • Online program
  • Placement testing
  • Contact information
  • Financial Aid
  • Scholarships
  • Orientation to college
  • Fit or readiness for online learning

What else do online students need to know beside what is listed above?

  • faculty advising
  • career services
  • opportunities for informal communication
  • Transfer Credit Policy and how those credits will apply towards degree
  • Computer requirements so student's have ample time to obtain the necessary software for success
  • Policies: drop/add/withdrawal/absentee, etc.
  • Course Transferability into a Master's program
  • residency requirements
  • how to view/pay their bill
  • student rights/code of conduct
  • How long the degree program is—2 years? 4 years?
  • Honors groups they may be eligible for
  • Prerequisite classes
  • Who to follow-up with for additional questions/concerns
  • Technology requirements (equipment needed & software)
  • A self-quiz on learning style and determining whether their learning style will fit in the requirements of an online course
  • How students with disabilities could access accommodations and services
  • Tutoring options
  • Prerequisit courses and transfer of courses from another institution
  • Technical Support availability: phone, email, IM, blogging
  • FAQ's or guest account to access sample page
  • Computer extras - Reduced prices for computer equipment or software through school (computer store).
  • Mentoring - A virtual/email buddy (upperclassman), sort of like an experienced roommate in the same major.
  • Bookstore - How to buy books, etc. for courses. I think this is a phase 1 activity rather than a phase 2 activity.
  • Institution's computer usage code ("the rules")

Who will assume responsibility for delivering these services?

  • Student Affairs
  • Academic Affairs
  • Admissions Counselor
  • Financial Aid Officers
  • Career Counselors
  • Recruiter
  • All college faculty and staff
  • IT or some sort of Media department at college
  • Academic department/college
  • Institution's IT/Computer Store

What is the best delivery method for these services?

  • all online if possible, with on-site support as well for local students to access
  • Have all of the information online for convenience, but also someone available by phone/email during normal business hours to answer direct questions about the program
  • demonstration/preview course
  • virtual office hours: IM or chatroom
  • technology tutorials/online workshops self-assessments
  • Incoming/outgoing phone calls—especially for specific questions not answered on web sites
  • Official letters for things like acceptance to the school
  • Note: all information (although it may be online, etc.) should be printable via comprehensive documents, etc.
  • Text-messaging (If student has it) - this can't be applied for all things, but for friendly reminders, etc. it would be appropriate
  • a online learners webpage with various learning modules that cover all of the topics mentioned above in addition to frequently asked questions regarding online learning.
  • On-Line Orientation or training course…How to take an online class
  • If the course or program is online then the goal should be all that all services are deliverable online with phone as a back up plan only
  • I honestly believe its a campus-specific methodology. I strongly believe that it depends upon the resources of the institution. The larger the institution, the more economies of scale exist. More staff and resources are available to staff call centers, IM chat rooms, etc. There are limits to the quality and quantity of services a college may provide.
  • I believe the idea about all information being in printable form is especially important. There may be legal ramifications for what, say, an academic advisor communicates to a student during an office appointment compared to a chat/IM session or a virtual domain (Second Life).

How to these resources contribute on online success?

If a new online student has the resources available to help them prior to enrolling, it will most likely ensure success after they enroll in a distance education course. It is vitally important for students to be engaged and motivated in DE, and this is done by communication and services that offer the online student a seamless entry into distance education.

If a student is going to enroll in an online program, they need to gain familiarity with how to access information online. It also puts responsibility on the student to take initiative- which is needed in an online setting. It benefits the counselor/advisor in the sense that the static information is available for the student to access independently- freeing the counselor to focus on specific student issues

A helpful, intuitive source of online information communicates the institution's dedication to online programs and students, which builds rapport from the first day. Students are less likely to falter at frustrating dead ends if there is an online source of accurate, easily navigated information about common roadblocks. Access to faculty and staff via email/phone/IM/chat provides individual support to students with less common concerns. Explicit policies, procedures, and expectations make it easier for students determine whether the program is a good fit before they enroll, and help them avoid pitfalls like late payments, inadequate hardware, unexpected fees, or gaps in online course offerings.

Any student needs to know what is available to them before they enroll. This is often what will make a difference on their choosing the institution. It is especially important for online learners to understand how to use the programs that will function as the medium for their learning, as well as how to take care of the other matters students have to take care of, like paying the bill, attaining PIN numbers and library access.

I agree with the comments above and would like to add that flexibility is key. Thus, the more styles of contact a college can offer as well as how the different services are delivered will enhance the chances of success in ultimately attracting and enrolling the student. People relate to mediums differently, thus information should be available in different ways - with personal contact provided. DE prides itself on being accommodating to the toughest of work schedules and family situations, thus the mediums offered should be no different, hopefully catering to various learning styles. Moreover, I strongly agree with the thoughts above in regards to offering as much of the information, etc. online for that is the environment the student will be expected to learn and communicate in when it comes to taking classes and "operating" as a DE student.

Students need to know ahead of time if they can do all aspects of the process on line. (i.e. registration to course completion course) To clarify, on our campus you need to come and take the Placement Test and some courses require that you take the mid-term and final on site.

The one thing I would add is that if the institution is trying to make online user friendly then it has to be easy to access for all types of students. Since online is dominately written communication material has to be clear up front and easy to navigate which means that mutiple learning modes would need to be addressed to create opportunities for students of all types to create success for themselves. Clear resources and communication generated confidence for the online student who feels that 'they can do it' so persistence is greater.

When I thought about answering this question I thought about cultures. I don't think it would be (too much of) a stretch to suggest that there might be one (or more) online student cultures, computer technology providing the medium through which students communicate. I obvious work in a traditionally white institution. For many "minority" students, coming to Happy Valley can be a culture shock. Where do I get my hair cut? Where can I buy the food I'm used to eating? As it's important for the institution to feel as though they belong to the larger campus community by having familiar things available to them in order to belong, it's equally important to the members of the online culture to have all the things available to them that they need to feel they belong to the institution. This sense of belonging, I believe, is key to the individual student's success.

The comment above made me think about an area of student services that isn't covered in the model we're learning about: alumni services. Someone else further along in the course may have already mentioned it but I haven't gotten that far yet. It seems to me that the sooner the college's alumni office makes online students "a part from the start," the more online students may begin to think of themselves as part of something new and exciting.

Phase 2 What do student need upon registering for their first online course through week 2 of the semester) students need information about:

  • 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

What else do online students need to know beside what is listed above?

When the course starts (LG)
How many posts are required (LG)
How grading will be determined (LG)
syllabus (LG)
Graded Assignment Document (GAD) (LG)
How to retrieve login/password if forgotten (RW- this is an issue that arises for us on a weekly basis)
How to report an issue with a professor- such as: grading error, no response from professor, etc… (RW)
Tutoring services if taking an online course at a local institution (RW)
bill payment options (BW)
withdrawal/drop dates and procedure (BW)
Student ID number (AMartin)
Student life or online support groups (AMasterson)
Comprehensive list of contacts at the college that can assist them with various issues, etc. (AMasterson)
If any additional programs or technologies will be required throughout the course (LRowley)
Format of tests and quizzes (if there are any) (LRowley)
How to share accommodations with the professor (TR)
How to take exams online, including how to avoid 'lock outs'. Especially important is students have older computers or have anxiety around testing. (BC)

Who will assume responsibility for delivering these services?

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

What is the best delivery method for these services?

announcement (LG)
email (LG)
voice recording on the announcement page (LG)
syllabus (LG)
graded assignment document (GAD) (LG)
Orientation catalog- listing FAQ's -(RW)
Class Schedule (AMartin)
Letter for ID or Pin (AMartin)
College blog for new and returning students (AMasterson)
Online modules and podcasts for online learners (LRowley)
Follow up with the student via phone once course has begun (TR)
Static posting on each course website along with email announcement to students the first week (BC)

How to these resources contribute on online succcess?

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

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. (RW)

Students won't be able to succeed if they don't know what is expected of them, due dates, and how to access resources. (AMartin)

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. (AMasterson)

The informaiton needs to be in an UDL format that is simple and accessible. Too many words can overwhelm any learner. (TR)

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. (BC)

Phase 3 - Learner Support Phase students need information about:

  • Critical institution wide deadlines
  • Participating in college activities
  • Finding and utilizing college resources for academic, financial, & personal support

**What else do online students need to know beside what is listed above?

Are there any activities geared towards older non-traditional students? (LG)
Where does an online student find resources having to do with academic, financial and personal support? (LG)
Is the advisor for the student readily available to answer questions and does s/he have training in dealing with multi-generational students? (LG)
Grade reports and GPA (Amartin)
Requirements for graduation with honors (Amartin)
How participating in college activities can affect their college experience (AMasterson)
How to utilize and find the college calendar - events and academic (AMasterson)
How to best take exams online or study skills for online courses (BC)
Networking options through student clubs, blogs, social networking websites etc (BC)
Opportunities to build leadership skills (BC)
How to access tutoring or support groups (if applicable) (LRowley)
Course selection /advising for the next semester (LRowley)
What add/drop and withdraw mean, and whether it is right for them based on their progress in the course (LRowley)
How to coordinate with the professor receiving an accommodation such as extended time on the online exam (LRowley)

Who will assume responsibility for delivering these services?

Academic Affairs and or Student Affairs, ideally the entire intitution is responsible (LG)
Student Services in conjunction with Recruitment and Retention Office
IT or Blackboard Coordinator type in collaboration with Student and Academic Affairs (BC)
Instructor (LR)

What is the best delivery method for these services?

Online delivery would be optimal, if not, on campus with convenient hours for working adults(LG)

Online grade book (through their online course or university system where students have access to all their information in one place—ours is MyCSU) (Amartin)

Agreed, online methods are best - blogs, emails and online announcements

Email, course website postings, college portal system, active Blackboard support website with various tips or links to information (BC)

I agree with everyone, online is best. Perhaps an online module or info page designated specifically for online courses/learners. (LR)

How to these resources contribute on online succcess?

It gives the student all the information needed to succeed. From initial enrollment in a course to helping with issues having to do with a personal or academic nature. (LG)

The more engaged students are overall in the college, the more liekly they are to succeed and stay with the institution. The items listed above allow the student to hopefully become embedded in the college, causing them to be attached and ultimately, stick with the institution - reaping more than "just" and education from the institution. (AMasterson)

Engagement is tricking for online students as the on campus model does not fit easily. But online students need to feel connected to the campus community to have success and persist through college. They need to feel that they are not 2nd class students just because they are online vs those in person. Online social networking thru blogs, Facebook or others keeps students connected and apart of the larger community so are more likely to stay engaged…one would hope (BC)

Phase 4 - Learner Transition Phase (leaving the institution) students need information about:

  • Developing educational and career plans
  • Reassessing goals
  • Transfer planning
  • Job placement
  • Graduation requirements and processes

What else do online students need to know beside what is listed above?

How to access official and unofficial transcripts (AMartin)
How to access job postings (AMartin)
Information regarding higher degrees from the institution (AMartin)
Resume assistance (AMartin)
Access to mock interviews (LG)
Paid internships (LG)
Alumni offerings (LG) - great thought! (AMasterson)
Advanced degrees and certificates after graduation (master's, etc.) (AMasterson)
Networking opportunties (AMasterson)
Commencement participation process if interested (BC)
For students with disabiliites how to transition to employment (BC)
How to develop an e-portfolio (LRowley)
What types of jobs can be sought for their specific major and degree. (LRowley)

Who will assume responsibility for delivering these services?

Career planning (AMartin)
Graduate counselors (AMartin)g
Advisors (LG)
Career counselors(LG)
Foundation (AMasterson)
Registrars Office (AMasterson)
Disability Services (BC)

What is the best delivery method for these services?

online, phone, in-person(LG)

Job postings on the school’s web site through a career network (AMartin)

Blogs and scrolling texts/announcements - in addition to the other thoughts presented already in this section (AMasterson)

Use of webcamera's and programs like Skype to connect for mock interviews, resume critiques etc. Perhaps captioned web videos for workshop type courses on transitions, interviewing etc. (BC)

How to these resources contribute on online succcess?

Job postings through the school means that employers have a good, valuable, and continuing relationship with the graduates of that institution. The employers will be familiar with what they can expect graduates of that institution will be capable of and what kind of employees they will make. This resource will help graduates and employers to be successfully matched. (AMartin)

These resources will help the online student feel connected to the institution and outside the institution. If a student receives the career services they need to obtain a job, they will look favorably upon the institution and become a contributing alumni (LG)

It helps them to develop their knowledge garnered in college into more than just a degree. The items discussed above teaches them how to market themselves and their knowledge to obtain a job their chosen field. It's not just about getting a degree, but having the opportunity to apply it. (AMasterson).

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