Help students adjust and succeed when taking online courses for the first time 

Online courses are exceedingly important for today’s higher education students. Even before COVID-19, distance learning was on the rise, and now it’s a major offering from just about every institution. Yet, participating in an online class can be stressful, particularly for college and university students who are taking virtual courses for the first time. 

Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for taking online courses. On the other hand, students who maintain flexibility can go with the flow — and put themselves in position to handle any online course challenges that come their way. 

Online course challenges: What you need to know

Many higher education institutions offer online courses today, due in part to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. A survey of nearly 1,000 college and university students during the pandemic revealed that 43% of respondents had never taken an online course before. Additionally, the survey shows that schools that moved to remote instruction as a result of the pandemic primarily used live sessions with student-teacher discussions (67%), recorded lectures (65%), and frequent quizzes and assessments (64%) to engage with online learners. 

Meanwhile, the risks surrounding the pandemic are increasingly forcing colleges and universities to shift from in-person to remote learning — a trend that appears likely to continue in the foreseeable future. How higher education institutions respond to virtual coursework could decide their chances of long-term success as well as the success of their students. 

Consider student needs as you develop and implement online courses. Colleges and universities must educate students about online coursework, so these students are well-prepared to thrive in virtual learning environments. 

3 Tips to help students succeed in online courses

There are many things colleges and universities can do to help their students succeed in online courses. Here are three of the most important lessons to pass on:

1. Teach students how to use the online learning equipment

Let students know exactly what equipment they will need before they enroll in an online course — and teach them how to use that equipment. That way, students can set up productive workspaces where they can get their coursework done from virtually anywhere. 

Typically, online students need a desktop or laptop computer equipped with a video camera and microphone. They will also need video-conferencing software, so they can seamlessly engage with a professor and their peers in real-time. Perhaps most important, online learners need a consistent internet connection that will allow them to keep up to date throughout a virtual class.

Once students pick up the equipment they need for online learning, they should have access to tutorials that show how to use this equipment for online learning. Video tutorials that students can access at their convenience are a good way to show how to use this equipment and avoid any setup issues. In addition, you should provide technical support so students can work directly with a friendly, knowledgeable specialist to get their equipment set up properly. 

2. Make students accountable

Ensure students know what to expect from an online course. Although classes are held virtually, students must be held accountable in the same way they would be during an in-person course. If online students are accountable for attending classes and completing coursework on schedule, they will enjoy the best learning experience possible. 

To make students accountable during an online class, it is important to keep the lines of communication open. Teachers should ask students questions and ensure they understand exactly what to expect during an online class. Moreover, teachers should encourage students to reach out any time they have concerns or questions via email or other virtual platforms. 

3. Create a positive online learning environment

Do whatever it takes to support students and provide them with a positive learning experience that allows them to learn and thrive. At the same time, make sure students can feel good about their online learning experiences, which can help increase interest from virtual learners down the line. 

It helps to gather feedback from online students as a course progresses, as well. Teachers can learn from students and find ways to provide them with the support they need to succeed in an online classroom. Plus, higher education institutions can use student feedback to further enhance their online classes. 

The bottom line on online learning

Online learning may be challenging for higher education institutions and students alike. But both parties can work together to make the most of online classes. Higher education institutions should educate students about online learning, and students should share insights about any problems or challenges they encounter along the way. With a collaborative approach, higher education institutions can build effective online courses, and students can use these classes to gain the real-world skills they need to succeed. 

At KWALL, we help colleges and universities uncover innovative ways to boost student engagement. We possess unparalleled Web expertise in EDU, and we are here to help you identify the best ways to support students. To learn how we can help your higher education institution deliver exceptional educational experiences, contact us today for a site audit today!



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