Orienting Students for Online Learning: Creating a Holistic Program to Build a Foundation for Success

Concurrent Session 4
Streamed Session

Watch This Session

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Learn from one community college’s experience in creating a holistic approach to orienting online learners.  Presenters will share solutions for developing programming that bridges the gap between student and faculty expectations. Attendees will leave with data outcomes & implementation plan. Session perfect for professionals developing new or re-envisioning orientation programming!

Sponsored By


Meg Foster is an Instructor of first-year experience courses (SDV 100) and an Academic Coach at Piedmont Virginia Community College. Prior to her work at Piedmont, Meg served at Reynolds Community College as the Coordinator for Online Student Success and the Counselor for First Year Initiatives. Her work involved developing support programs for online learners, designing and coordinating orientation programming, building a student leadership program, and serving as an academic adviser. Her areas of research include enrollment management, college preparation, online learning, and retention, and she has presented at numerous national conferences on issues in higher education, student orientation, and college success. Meg previously served as an Assistant Dean of Admissions at Salem College and Virginia Wesleyan University. She has a M.A. in College Student Personnel Administration from the University of Maryland and a B.A. in History from the University of Virginia.
10+ years supporting educators Most likely to go above & beyond for her clients Most likely to strike up a conversation with anyone Spent first 18 yrs of her life in Southeast Asia

Extended Abstract

Preparing students for success in an online learning environment can positively impact retention numbers and facilitate certificate and degree attainment.  An effective orientation to online learning can create a foundation for addressing expectations set forth in the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Scorecard regarding student engagement. How do institutions develop holistic programming that both prepare students for success and create opportunities for engagement and community building?  What are different approaches for developing orientation programming using existing campus resources?  Come participate in a lively discussion about how we can create the best possible beginning for our online learners.  Presenters will share a model used by one community college which combines the web-based video content of Go2Orientation, the online student success workshops of StudentLingo and human support resources to holistically approach orienting learners. We will discuss utilizing Faculty Facilitators and Online Peer Mentors to facilitate student engagement and community building. Presenters will also talk through options for building web-based, video orientation programming that is easy to update, adaptable to changing institutional needs, allows for ease of data collection and student access, and is ADA compliant. Presenters will cover the challenges of selecting a vendor for online orientation.  Attendees will get to view several web-based orientation programs as well as discuss how to best promote to students. Presenters will share data collection, considerations for program assessment, and share the results of specific assessments demonstrating the impact online orientation is having on online student success.  


Level of Participation:

In order to create an interactive and engaging learning environment for attendees, the presenters will divide session attendees into small groups.  Presenters will utilize this small group format to jump start discussion amongst attendees regarding their college’s or university’s needs in orienting online learners. Session attendees will build a model of a comprehensive orientation program considering the various components that go into preparing online students for success.  Groups will report out their findings and presenters will facilitate a larger session-wide discussion. Attendees should come prepared to share their institution’s successes and challenges in preparing online learners! Prizes will be awarded to those participating!


Session Goals:

Session attendees will take away a model for orienting students to online learning as well as the challenges faced along the way.  Session handouts will include a timeline for developing an online orientation program, guest user access information, and a model for orientation programming. It is the presenters’ goal that each attendee will leave the presentation with practical steps they can readily implement at their institution to impact online student success!