By Ana Marjanovic, Instructional Designer, EdTech & Blackboard Administrator
The course is available to students on their Blackboard home page, under My Organizations.
Launched in 2015, the ‘Are You Ready? CUNY Student Online Learning Readiness course was designed to help CUNY students taking courses in any form of online modality focus on achieving their academic goals. This course covers essential topics such as working in an online environment, time management skills, technology requirements, use of the learning management system (e.g., Blackboard), Netiquette (code of conduct) in the online context, and information about campus services and support. Designed using UDL principles to support accessibility and digital literacy, it is divided into five modules that include different ways of presenting content to support auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learning styles, and a test to assess the student’s understanding of the content. To advance to the next module, students must pass each test with a 100% score. They can retake the test multiple times, a strategy that focuses on content mastery through repetition.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, student enrollment in ‘Are You Ready?’ increased; the number of faculty requiring their students to obtain the ‘Are You Ready?’ course certificate also increased marking the CUNY-wide dependence on some form of the online learning component.
The 2022 changes to the course reflect the moving goalposts regarding online learning. The changes are centered around the following topics:
- establishing student presence in the online space using technology
- reflecting recent Blackboard (Bb) updates
- introducing updated CUNY definitions of modes of instruction
- integrating recent CUNY services and cloud applications
- introducing the concept of Digital Citizenship
- improving course navigation
Inspired by the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework that emphasizes collaboration in the learning process and delineates the importance of social, cognitive, and teaching presences in constructing the learning experience, the updates to ‘Are You Ready?’ emphasize the importance of Bb interactive tools such as Discussion Boards, Blogs, and Wikis. Students can interact with those tools in the ‘Are You Ready?’ environment.
Recent Blackboard updates affecting CUNY student view mainly pertain to the upgraded user interface where students can type in and format text, add mathematical formulas and special characters, add tables, attach images, embed videos, link content from cloud storage, etc. The course summarizes those changes and provides students with a hands-on opportunity to practice adopting the new interface.
The redesigned course includes a CUNY-adopted definition of learning modalities that helps students register for classes. Moreover, in recent years, the number of CUNY-licensed applications has increased. The revamped ‘Are You Ready?’ course provides useful information and links to those applications.
As the use of the Internet has become an integral part of our daily life, there is an increased need to address the topic of the responsible use of technology, the Internet, and digital devices to engage with society, referred to as Digital Citizenship. Expanding on the existing section about Netiquette, the course summarizes the main foundations of Digital Citizenship, such as online identity and footprint, screen time management, online security, and digital empathy.
Further developing the existing section on Academic Integrity Policy, the course update included a section on the most common citation styles providing students with the opportunity to practice correct citation forms through multiple-choice quiz questions.
Finally, the changes made in the course navigation and information flow reflect the efforts to improve user experience by implementing the UDL principles to support accessibility and digital literacy.
The revamped course has been deployed to students across CUNY campuses in August 2022. The future ‘Are You Ready?’ course updates will continue to meet the needs of CUNY students and follow the trends of the rapidly evolving field of online learning.