Addressing diverse needs through online orientation experiences
See Handout. They’re from Excelsior College, formerly Regents College in Albany NY. They were an entity of the state but no longer. They have 33,000 students but no buildings, classes, faculty offices. The whole deal is at a distance. They are one of the top educators of nurses, and their second large population is the military. They use Vista but this talk has nothing to do with the platform.
They have over 250 online courses per year. I don’t understand how 33,000 students fit into 250 courses . . .
Vista Orientation for Instructors
Vista Orientation for Students
Of course they need to do all their training online, as they do everything online.
Their challenges include a broad array of student skills, departments, and remote equipment. This can be difficult for, say, the military. And many of their students are non-traditional. Finally, they start new “semesters” every month, so they have rolling enrollment and the training must be up all the time.
They address departmental differences with icons – each department has different needs, so there are separate orientations for each department. Users just select the correct icon to get the correct department.
To address the varied technical skills issue they created a number of video demonstrations.
They address information overload by eliminating overlap between the two different orientations. I don’t see how this helps either the students or the faculty.
Because instructors are always coming in they get immediate access to VOI. And no, I don’t understand how this strategy corresponds with the one above.
The students also face many of the challenges faced by the instructors.
Of course the distance training is conducted on Bb.
They use a modular approach so students can go straight to the area in which they need help.
With a broad population of students they have tech skills modules to fit the widely ranging needs of the students.
Online course help button leads to a general help page.
*They have a Known Issues link – very important, say, for the problem with special characters in filenames, or using Word 2007.
After the initial version was out they went to both students and instructors and asked what they were having trouble with and made a second version. This was after a few months, and then a year out they did the same thing and created a third version.
This is a real course with tests and the like – it’s not a Sandbox, it’s an Orientation Course. This is another good idea that we might want to think of.
Visual: They find the video orientation was very useful.
Dynamic: Talk to students and instructors on a regular basis and see what are the problems that most need addressing.
Convenient: you want the orientation to be as broadly available – and linked from everywhere.
Concise and Complete: Both policies and practice activities.
Website = http://www.excelsior.edu
Write them and they will give you some kind of test access:
firstname.lastname@example.org — Andrea Lala
email@example.com — Erin Driscoll