Starting a new tertiary course can be daunting for any student. It can be especially stressful for first time online students who not only want to gain an understanding of their course, but also the technology that goes hand in hand with online delivery.
To bridge this gap, Swinburne Online launched an online Orientation program to introduce new students to their virtual campus before commencing their studies late 2013. Over 1110 online students completed the program, with 88 per cent of those saying it covered everything they hoped.
Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology) student, Symoniah Quaggan, completed the 30 minute program to familiarise herself with the technology and support services involved with online study and said it was a great way to prepare for her studies.
“Orientation helped me a lot. When I first looked at Blackboard I just blinked at the screen thinking I was never going to be able to figure it out and that I'd never get to submit an assignment because I'd be too confused.
“But after going through the Orientation and following it step by step it became so much easier to navigate around. I feel 100 per cent more confident after completing the program because it answered all of my questions about studying online,” Symoniah said.
The main aim of Orientation is to help students feel comfortable in their virtual environment and build awareness of student support services. Using animation, quizzes, video and audio, online students are able to tour Blackboard and get a sense of what online study looks like.
Swinburne Online Academic Director, Sue Kokonis says Orientation gives new students a clearer understanding of what’s involved in online learning.
“We want all of our students to be successful learners, and to help with that there are vital tools and tips on how to succeed in a digital learning environment throughout their course in Orientation. Technology is a big part of online learning and we want it to be second nature to our students.”
Orientation has so far been successful in introducing new students to Swinburne Online. The program will continue to be developed using student feedback throughout 2014 to ensure it meets the needs of all incoming online students.