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Overview

A review of literature highlights the important components that should be included in an online orientation course. Several components were revealed as critical, and they can be categorized as follows: (1) Technology, (2) Self-Directed Learning Skills, (3) Expectations, (4) Resources. It is recommended that an online orientation course should include those components in a holistic manner, because these components are intertwined.

Technology

Most literature emphasize the importance of technology competency. Technical aspects include the effective use of Learning Management System (LMS) or administrative management system (e.g., course search/registration, tuition, etc). University should consider promoting essential and sufficient technological skills so that students can fully appreciate the online education. The orientation program can teach how to do the following specific tasks. These tasks were developed through a Task Analysis conducted by North Carolina State University:

  1. Adapt to the online learning environment
  2. Establish technical resources for online learning
  3. Access course website
  4. Navigate course website
  5. Use e-mail to communicate
  6. Manage course assignment
  7. Participate in online discussions
  8. Participate in synchronous chat
  9. Complete online quizzes
  10. Complete online assignment

Please click here (p. 98-99) for details.

Self-Directed Learning Skills

Literature indicate that successful online learning is shown to be dependent on strong self-learning skills such as (1) time management skills, (2) communication skills (student-instructors/emails/non-face-to-face communications), (3) concentration (vs. procrastination), (4) self-motivation, (5) time commitment, (6) organization skills. Among them, time management was most frequently cited as the important indicator for successful online learning experiences. Therefore, online orientation course should foster such skills, using framework or techniques. Some scholars mentioned a low level of awareness of online learning.

Expectations

Scholars mentioned that students who has little or no experience of online learning showed a low level of awareness of online learning. By establishing expectations at an early stage of their online learning experience, students are expected to increase their preparedness of online learning. Expectations can be reciprocal—that is, online orientation course should carefully listen to both faculty and student capacity; and create the realistic expectations. Relevant university policy such as expected time for a credit hour (3 credits/9-11 hours) should be included as an expectation. Technological requirements, such as, the ability to access to Blackboard is another expectation that is recommended to appear in an online orientation.

Resources/Support

Literature review revealed the importance of support/resources as a repeating theme. The support include (1) technology support (e.g., Blackboard, PeopleSoft), (2) pedagogical supports, (3) availability of online support, (4) knowledge base, (5) community of users, (6) students in need of accommodation, and/or (7) online student advising service. According to the literature review, it is important to include the availability of support units and contact information. A researcher also mentioned that online  researcher mentioned that an orientation course should be conducted online, as a student is taking their course online and can work on the course any day of the week and at any time of the day. Online orientation should be available within those same time parameters.

References

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