B-Online tutorials help newcomers navigate online
May 23, 2014Tweet
For those who have never taken a course online, it’s different. But the Center for Learning and Teaching (CLT) understands how online instruction and learning can differ from what takes place in a traditional classroom, so has created B-Online.
An online learning immersion experience, B-Online was developed by Binghamton University instructional designer Eric Machan Howd to demonstrate to students and faculty alike what it’s like to take – and be successful in – an online course taken through Blackboard Learn at Binghamton.
“For those who are already registered for an online course, it will give them tips on how to be successful in this type of learning environment and the ability to practice a lot of the tools Blackboard has,” Howd said. “And for those just interested but not yet registered for any online courses, they’ll get a lot of the same and satisfy their curiously before they register.”
Howd developed this immersion experience based on his experience training faculty for the past several years. It will be modified as needed through feedback from instructors and students, he said.
The B-Online training tool includes four modules:
• Learn About Online Learning - What is an online learning environment like and what does it mean to learn online?
• Learn and Practice Blackboard - Dealing specifically with Blackboard, allowing you to learn about some of the more common tools that could be used in an online course.
• Learn How to be a Successful Online Learner – Tips on what it entails to be successful in these types of environments.
• Provide Feedback and Check Your Understanding - Basically assesses knowledge you have gained through the orientation and offers a five-question survey on what the experience was like.
“B-Online was built in a general sense,” said Murnal Abate, assistant CLT director for Summer and Winter Sessions. “The experience is general enough so that any student who would want to learn online through Blackboard can immerse themselves in the experience and get a better feel for what they would be doing.”
B-Online will become available to students when they are registered for an online course through Blackboard, and those not currently registered can request to be manually added, said Howd. “As far as those interested in online course development in general, faculty are asking to be added so they can see what students are seeing. It’s a really great orientation for them before they develop a course.”
“From my experience, there are all kinds of ideas on how to manage your time, how to communicate, how to get help online,” said Howd. “B-Online has testimonials from students with their tips for future learners, and there are some self-assessments you can take answering questions about how you handle certain situations so may want to strengthen your skills in that area before jumping right in.
“There are a lot of other resources you can immerse yourself in to get a feel for how you learn online,” said Howd. “These modules vary and are aimed at getting through the entire experience in a couple of hours on average.”
“If we can get just one person to benefit from it, the pilot will be a success,” said Abate. “At the other extreme, I would love to see every person who is a first-time student of online learning use it. It’s a powerful resource and something good to do before the beginning of Summer Session.”
“To me, it’s not the number of people who take it,” Howd said. “What I want to see come out of it is the student who is in a fully online course, say, ‘Boy, I’m glad I went through that. It alleviated a lot of questions and unfamiliarities I may have experienced about getting to know how to learn online. I’m glad I did this and spent the two hours on it because it got me into my learning a lot faster.’”
“We’re really trying to promote student success and to be a more student-centered, student-success model,” said Abate. “This is a perfect example of trying to build a better resource to help students be successful and to help faculty develop better courses.”
B-Online could have a particular impact for those students taking condensed Summer and Winter session courses. Enrollments overall for these sessions are growing an average of about 12 percent a year, said Abate, with about 43 percent of all summer courses were offered online last year. This year that percentage is expected to grow. “This year there are about 360 to 370 courses out there and up to 180 are being offered online,” Abate said. “Percentage-wise, we’re finding a huge number of courses are transitioning and about 90 percent of all Winter Session courses are online.”
Nevertheless, there are still a lot of students who have yet to take an online course, said Abate. “There is a lot of room for students to explore this format if it’s important to them.
“B-Online is something that the CLT is getting involved with on the student side, but there are other initiatives on the instructor side,” said Abate. “And this is what we do. If instructors are interested and want more information, we’re here to talk to them.”