Essential Question: How can we support students in being successful in our online course?
There are many things we can do to support a student to be successful in our online course. The first thing is to make sure to have the course material posted before the course begins. This way the student can go through the syllabus and see if they have any questions.
Often when students start a new course online there is a level of anxiety. Students are nervous about some of the assignments or the project they will have to complete. “One of the first responsibilities of the instructor is to try to lower the level of tension. In setting the right climate for learning, the instructor should explain that mistakes are a natural part of learning and there is no reason to fear making them, risk-taking is approved, there is no such thing as a ‘dumb question,ʼ the instructor admires and approves effort and commitment, and the instructor cares about the student being successful and will work toward that goal” (Morrison, 2011).
Other factors that will help students be successful are encouragement from employers, coworkers, friends, and family. It is also important to make sure the course is not too difficult or easy. Students need to plan their study time and develop schedules, especially if they are taking more than one course.
St. Pierre and Olsen (1991) found the following factors contributed to student satisfaction in independent study courses: (1) the opportunity to apply knowledge, (2) prompt return of assignments, (3) conversations with the instructor, (4) relevant course content, and (5) a good study guide (Moore, 2012).
Instructors must also be aware of how each student is doing. They need to monitor each individual. If they see the student is falling behind, the teacher needs to reach out to that student. Sometimes a student may not reach out for help when help is needed. The teacher should be sensitive to the studentʼs situation and be aware if something is going on in the studentʼs academic or personal life at the moment.
“In my opinion, I think online courses are actually a little harder,” writes Lytle (2013). He offers five tips for students to succeed in an online class.
- Confirm technical requirements: Make sure your computer has the capacity to open and complete the assignments.
- Connect with instructors early: if you have a question about the course, ask ahead of time.
3. Create a schedule: Often online classes will meet a certain time, but you also
need to set time to work on assignments outside of class.
4. Stay organized: Either keep your assignment in a folder on your computer or,
if you printed out information, in a binder.
5. Have a consistent workspace: Students need a place to study or complete
assignments, whether that’s at a coffee shop, the school library, or at home.
Morrison (2012) has suggestions for educators. He writes, “Educators have a role in students’ self-directed learning too, and that is to give the learner the responsibility of learning, expect success and be there.” Below are a few specific suggestions he offers to accomplish this:
•Outline expectations for students thoroughly. By articulating expectations and the role of the student in the course, we “give” the student the responsibility.
•Expect questions in the first two weeks of the course. This is the “syllabus blues” phase. Students require more support during this phase than any other.
•Respond promptly to student questions. The twenty-four hour rule is a good benchmark.
•Don’t expect students to know how to be self-directed, they may need to develop this skill set. Direct students to resources that support students in developing their self-direction skills. (Morrison, 2012)
By following these tips for the student and educators, your students will be more likely to be successful in your online course. We have all taken a course online and have had a course where we felt anxiety. We want our students to feel motivated, and experience success from the beginning so they will complete the course and feel confident about what they are doing along the way.
Lytle, R. (2013). 5 Tips to Succeed in an Online Course. Retrieved October 16, 2016, from http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/articles/2013/01/14/5-tips-to-succeed-in-an-online-course
Moore, M. (2011). Distance Education: A Systems View of Online Learning, 3rd Edition. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
Morrison, D. (2012). Five-step Strategy for Student Success with Online Learning. Retrieved October 16, 2016, from https://onlinelearninginsights.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/five-step-strategy-for-student-success-with-online-learning/