Quality Enhancement Plan
GOAL 6: The College will enhance its efforts to insure that students taking online courses will receive effective orientation to the online learning environment.
This goal differs from Objective 9 under Goal 4 above in that this goal has a broader focus. The previously discussed Objective 9 is concerned with the orientation students receive to specific classes. This goal, on the other hand, is concerned with providing students with a general orientation to the virtual classroom. The aim of this goal is to see that all students who register for an online course understand what combination of skills and knowledge are required to take an online course.
The Infrastructure subcommittee determined the minimum computer skills students need to negotiate an online class (see Appendix D). All students who register for an online course at CVCC should possess these requisite computer skills and should also be aware of how an online course works, the student's role in the class, and how students need to interact with the instructor and their fellow students.
The College recognized early on that students enrolled in online courses could benefit from an orientation, and the original Web Ready self-assessment debuted in 2001. Currently, the CVCC Web Ready site (http://www.cvcc.vccs.edu/Distance Education/Ready.asp) includes a recently-revised Self-Assessment quiz designed to help students decide if they are ready to take an online course. The same page also offers students an introduction to Blackboard called Blackboard 101. (All students who enroll in any web-based course are automatically entered into Blackboard 101; those students not enrolled in an online class can enroll as guests.) Blackboard 101 is designed to help students understand a Blackboard site and provide an overview of each of the features in the navigation menu.
The Rationale and Management subcommittee report suggested that the requisite set of specific minimum computer skills be incorporated into a required Orientation to Online Learning course, either an interactive course or a static course that students can complete at their own speed. This report also recommended that in some special cases a student should be allowed to register for online courses without completing this requirement if there is evidence that the student's skills are adequate. Once students complete this requirement they would be certified to take any online course offered by the College. Provisions should also be made for students to opt out of this orientation who possess the appropriate skills either through previous coursework (i.e. designated computer science classes) or through experience. The Rationale and Management subcommittee report also noted that most colleges contacted do not have a required online orientation course. The reason is that it may have a negative effect on enrollment. Most do regret that such an orientation is not required.
The purpose of this goal is to see that this regret is not an issue at CVCC. The College is committed to prepare students for the online learning experience, to minimize frustration on both the students' and instructors' parts, and to help insure students have the skills and knowledge they need to achieve the maximum benefit from web-based classes.
Objective 1: Year One through Five: Research and examine examples of orientation methods and materials from exemplary colleges.
The Rationale and Management subcommittee of the QEP has made a good start at assembling these materials. These materials will be examined and additional materials gathered if deemed necessary.
Objective 2: Year One through Five: Develop orientation materials for CVCC online courses. Evaluate and revise as necessary taking into account external research and internal reviews (including student satisfaction surveys).
The materials gathered as a result of the previous objective combined with orientation tests the College currently has available should make this objective fairly easy to realize. Adding in the results of internal reviews and student satisfaction survey data should insure that CVCC's online orientation appropriately meets students' needs.