You are Here: Designing and Developing a Student Onboarding Package for Online Courses

Concurrent Session 7

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

This session will prepare attendees to create a universal course front-end for their program’s unique needs by adapting the UW Colleges Online model for online courses. This session will explore the research, design, revision, and implementation of this model and walk attendees through an example course utilizing this front-end format.

Presenters

Emily started with UW Colleges Online in October 2015. She has her Master’s Degree in Instructional Design and Technology from Western Illinois University and her undergraduate work is in K-12 education. She taught Fifth Grade for a number of years in NW Illinois, and more recently worked in Student Services at a four-year institution of higher learning. Her interests lie in using her creativity to build engaging classes for lead instructors, evaluation, video production, and human performance technology.
Michael is an instructional technologist and media enthusiast, acting as the system administrator for the UW Colleges Online learning management systems (Brightspace and Canvas). Michael started his career in web journalism, strategic communications and multimedia design, a background that often comes in handy as part of the UW Colleges Online Instructional Design team’s one-man Special Projects Division. Around the house, Michael is a ravenous music buff and recovered Film Studies major, still regularly tethered to a screen by a pair of oversized headphones.

Extended Abstract

Are you looking for ways to guide your students through their first online course? Are you interested in how student onboarding can impact retention and the student experience? We will be sharing how University of Wisconsin Colleges Online prepares and supports our new and returning online students throughout each of our courses.

As part of campus discussions related to UW Colleges Online’s retention efforts and how to best onboard our students for online courses, we recently implemented a research-based solution for improving the week-one student experience in all course offerings. Our campus compiled data sourced from inquires to our student support team, questions posted by students in discussions within select freshman level courses, surveys of our instructors, and input from our online advisors and instructional design team. We then used that data to determine applicable trends and guide the development of new front-end materials to be implemented consistently across our course offerings. We also used this opportunity to address concerns expressed by our advising staff, and meet a range of Quality Mattersâ standards, in order to retain and best serve our students.

Our students need assistance in a number of different areas:

  • How to navigate our Learning Management System, including the design of individual courses
  • How to resolve issues with required technology
  • What to do when accessing their course for the first time
  • How to complete the mandatory UW Colleges Online attendance activity
  • How to locate and use the course syllabus and schedule
  • How to access academic resources

We address these student needs by adding a uniform set of modules and design elements to each course that:

  • explains how students can get started
  • verifies course attendance
  • establishes instructor presence
  • introduces our learning technology
  • communicates academic policies
  • provides helpful resources
  • guides students through the remainder of the course

This session will prepare attendees to create a similar universal course front-end for their program’s unique needs by adapting the UW Colleges Online model for online courses. This session will explore the research, design, revision, and implementation of this model and walk attendees through an example course. The walkthrough will explore the structure of our final implementation and explain how we resolved concerns introduced during the design stage of this project. This session will encourage attendees to think about the unique student needs of their institutions and consider a similar design and revision process.

The main session outcome is to prepare attendees to adapt the UW Colleges Online model for course frontend materials by creating an outline structure relevant to their unique programmatic needs.