by Carlos Guevara, HEO
Director, Ed Tech Office
Hostos has experienced an increase in the number of courses offered online via Blackboard (the Learning Management System offered at CUNY). The Office of Educational Technology (EdTech) recognized, driven by input from the faculty members teaching online as well as the staff on campus in offices and departments supporting students in online courses, the need to help transition students from in-person learning to the online learning environment. In response, EdTech developed the “Are You Ready?” course (https://commons.hostos.cuny.edu/online/students/are-you-ready/ The Blackboard-based “Are you Ready?” student online readiness assessment course was designed to teach students how online learning works, and to prepare them for what to expect in an online learning environment.
Who benefits from the use of this course? Students, faculty members, support services, and the college all benefit. Students who complete the “Are You Ready?” course become independent learners. The course encourages students to explore and reflect on their readiness for online education. It also takes the responsibility for orienting and welcoming students to online learning, partially out of faculty members hands, giving faculty members a tool to encourage students to complete this orientation autonomously.
EdTech offered an initial pilot of the course during the Fall 2015 semester, and the pilot course was very well received by faculty members and students. Over 500 students participated in the initial pilot, and of those, over 300 successfully completed the “Are You Ready?” online tutorial. In the second iteration of the “Are You Ready?” tutorial pilot (Spring 2016), EdTech added pre- and post-quizzes for the “Are You Ready?” course to help evaluate and further improve this new tool.
Designed to help transition students into an online learning environment, “Are You Ready?” uses a combination of text, video, and quizzes, utilizes question pools and randomization on quizzes, and generally ensures that students are actively engaged in learning the content, and in assessment of their learning while completing the course.
Features of the “Are you Ready?” course as well as initial results from the pilot, have been presented at several conferences, including the CUNY IT Conference and the HETS Best Practices Showcase. Thanks to its engaging and innovative approach, other CUNY colleges (Bronx Community College, Queensborough Community College, and Lehman College) have shown interest in piloting this course on their campuses during the Spring 2017 semester. EdTech is also proud to share with the college community that this project has been awarded the “2016 Outstanding Project Serving CUNY Students, Faculty and/or Staff,” which will be presented at the CUNY IT Conference at John Jay on December 1st, 2016.
In summary, below is a list of benefits and features of the “Are You Ready?” course:
- Because “Are You Ready?” is offered via Blackboard, students get a feel for what an online course is like while taking the course.
- When students do need in-person help completing the “Are You Ready?” course, EdTech staff is available to provide assistance to students on a walk-in basis, in C-559.
- The course was designed by instructional designers who have developed and taught online courses and have years of experience providing support to both faculty and students.
- The course employs pedagogical and instructional design methodologies such as universal design and active learning.
- The content includes referrals to the difference services and offices on campus where students can go for additional support.
- “Are You Ready?” is both an assessment tool and a course. In addition to helping students reflect on whether they are a good match (and prepared) for online learning, it also teaches them how to be prepared for an online course.