Induction week, for campus-based students is all about getting to know each other, getting to know the programme team, and socialising. This is also true for online students, although it is not always easy to forge the same kind of understanding, relationships and outcome; but it’s not impossible.
Working online is not often a natural feeling for students, whatever their age. To this end we, the facilitators, need to carefully design the Induction programme and activities to make the students feel at home, comfortable in the online environment, and able to comment in a risk- and blame-free environment.
This makes it all the more important to carefully design and implement the introduction, the learning environment, and the online activities you expect them to participate in. Last year I wrote about five such activities in my post Online Induction: Icebreaker Activities.
Here is another one, modified from Ryan Watkins’ book “75 eLearning Activities – making online learning interactive” (Amazon link);
Objective: This gives the students the opportunity to share their thoughts on a topic (decided by the activity moderator) in the VLE to encourage a reflective process about themselves and their colleagues.
Delivery: This can be used with either a Discussion Board or a Blog, depending on the preference and confidence of the moderator and expected technical competencies of the student cohort.
Process: The moderator provides the topic, usually something topical to current news, the programme content or learning style (eLearning), and encourages the students to initially post their responses (100 words or less). Once all students have responded the moderator encourages further posts replying to at least 3 entries made by their colleagues, also in 100 words or less.
Additional Information: If students are new to the technology (blog, discussion board) then appropriate training material is needed.
Ideally the kind of Induction Activity you use ought to be a mixture of reflective and collaborative styles in order to get the students engaged and comfortable with each other, with you (the moderator), and in working online in what many may find a new and alien environment.
What kind of activity do you use, is it specifically designed for online students or one that can be used for campus-based as well as online students?