At Hostos Community College there has been an emergence of courses offered in both the hybrid (partially online) and asynchronous (fully online) modalities. Online learning offers students the flexibility of self-paced learning on their own time, in many instances from the comfort of their own home.
Synchronous courses (face-to-face), while still an important component of higher education, can deter adult learners when alternative corresponding online courses offer learning in the comfort of one’s home at one’s own pace.
However despite many students entering higher education being dubbed “digital natives,” online learning environments like Blackboard, are not as intuitive or familiar as the online environments such as social media, which digital natives use on a daily basis. The 2016 National Education Technology Plan calls this the Digital Use Divide, which describes the difference between a student’s passive use of technology and their active use of technology.
Are You Ready?
In order to better prepare students for the active use of technology that online learning requires, the Office of Educational Technology has created the “Are You Ready?” course in Blackboard to better prepare students in both how online learning works, and what to expect in an online learning environment.
The course is divided into 6 sections that go over a range of topics. Each section presents the student with a brief video, text, and quiz. The course is also designed so that students cannot proceed to further sections without completing the previous one. Once the student has completed the course, they are rewarded with a certificate that they can provide to their instructor to show that they are prepared for an online learning course.
When this course was introduced to faculty teaching in online modalities in the past spring semester, they found that the course both prepared student expectations of online learning and also created an accountability for students who were taking their course.
As online courses at Hostos continue to expand, the Office of Educational Technology encourages faculty to better prepare their students by asking them to take the Are You Ready? course at the beginning of the semester.
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