Are ALL Your Students Ready for Online Learning? An Institutional Wide Approach to Online Learner Readiness

Concurrent Session 1
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

The pervasiveness of technology through all course modalities is increasing, exposing all students to technology whether they intended it or not. Therefore, focusing solely on preparing online students for online learning is no longer sufficient. This session shares a cross-departmental initiative to develop and implement an online learner readiness module to all first-year students, the lessons learned, and the resulting changes for student success.


Crystal Faulkner has been with higher education since 2004. Working her way up over the years from student worker to technology manager, Crystal has experienced many aspects of the industry from both a student and professional viewpoint. She brings this perspective and a zeal for learning and technology to her institution every day. Crystal is currently an Instructional Technology Support Manager for Distance Education at Austin Peay State University. During her time at APSU, she was instrumental in implementing new technology for student support including an online learning readiness assessment and online tutoring. She also received her Master of Arts in Education for Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in Instructional Technology from APSU. Crystal’s passion is instructional technology and leveraging it to improve faculty’s ability to understand and connect with their students and content.

Extended Abstract

Recently a four-year institution that experienced increases in first-year student enrollments adopted an institutional student success strategic goal in order to retain these students. The student success initiatives focused on first-year, on-ground students. One gap to the institution’s overall approach to student success is that it did not consider students leveraging alternative learning environments such as online and hybrid learning. Additionally, face-to-face courses are increasingly adopting digital resources and tools. This increase in online, hybrid and technology-rich courses is exposing students to a mixed modality of courses and related challenges. 

Recognizing the increased use of online and digital learning for all course modalities at the institution, the department of Distance Education collaborated with the Center for Teaching and Learning Strategies faculty to revise the curriculum for the institution’s first-year seminar to include an online learner readiness module. The institution’s first-year seminar is a requirement for all new first-year students and is delivered online, hybrid, and face-to-face. The new online learner readiness module included an online learner readiness assessment, a reflective discussion assignment, and a student feedback survey. Additionally collaborators administered a faculty survey to solicit faculty feedback regarding their workload and experience facilitating the new online learner readiness module.

As a pilot study, the newly developed online learner readiness module was implemented in the institution’s first-year seminar in 19 sections. This included online, hybrid and face-to-face sections. Pilot data was evaluated for the effectiveness of the curriculum improvements and to gauge satisfaction with the new module. Based on feedback, curriculum improvements were made and the new module was adopted for all future sections regardless of course modality.

This presentation will provide attendees with information regarding the collaboration between instructional designers and curriculum developers, the online learner readiness module implemented, evaluation data and future goals for this project. Presenters will engage the audience throughout the session with brainstorming questions and opportunities to share information about their institution. Presenters will share the presentation, module outline, and faculty and student survey instruments on the conference website.