As you design a course for online delivery, it is important to consider factors that contribute to the success of students in online courses. First, consider the problems that are common among online students.
It is important for students to assess their readiness for online learning. Consider building content or links into the beginning of your course to assist students in evaluating their readiness. There are many resources online that can help students do this. Most assessment tools will consider the following factors that contribute to a student’s success or failure in an online learning:
- Learning Style – Students must be comfortable with reading and writing, as that is the main mode of communication. Visual learners do best in this environment. Diablo Valley College has an online learning styles inventory that provides students with immediate results and information related to their learning style.
- Motivation and Self Directedness – Some inventories will ask questions of students about their self-directedness.
- Time Management Skills – Procrastinators are more likely to fail. You can build in numerous deadlines to assist students in staying on target. Again, self-assessment can be useful in this area. Resources to help students improve these skills can also be found under “Resources.”
- Expectation for the Class – Students frequently have unrealistic expectations of the time required. Counselors advise students that the general rule of thumb for academic classes is to study for 2 hours for every one hour in class. For a face-to-face class this translates to 3 hours in class and 6 hours of study per week for a total of 9 hours per week. The online class may take 9 hours per week of study and participation. Communicate to your students an approximate time commitment.
- Computer & Technical Skills – If students are struggling with the technical skills they will have less time to focus on the class content. CATE has a self-assessment quiz that students can use to evaluate their readiness in terms of technical skills. Several resources to assist students in this area can be found under “Resources for Students”.
Resources for Students
There are numerous resources for students to help them with the skills they need to be successful in the online environment.
- “How to Be a Successful Online Student” – A DVD that was created through the CVC4 region and available to California Community Colleges.
- “Online Survival Guide” – A printed publication, also available on CD that was created through the CVC3 region.
- Study Skills Online – Virginia Tech has an extensive site that is self-help for students to improve their study (and time management) skills. Much of the content is interactive.
SRJC Resources for Students
- Online Orientation to SRJC – A general orientation to SRJC is offered by the Counseling Department. While not specific to distance learning, it addresses many matriculation services available to SRJC students. Information is helpful to all new SRJC students, and also to those who did not take an orientation when they became students at SRJC.
- Online Counseling Services at SRJC – Students may ask questions of counselors using a Web-based intake form. A full range of counseling services are available online. Students can expect a response from a counselor (via e-mail) within one or two business days. During the peak registration time, the response time may be longer.
- Distance Education – Provides information to students about registration, checking in, self-assessment, and the necessary technical skills and equipment.
- On-Campus Computer Labs – If students prefer to use on-campus labs, they can use this schedule for the hours of operation.