Online learning gives students more options and flexibility and a growing number of them are taking advantage of online courses in order to pursue their degree in a way that works for them. According to the 2015 Survey of Online Learning, there was an 3.9 percent increase in the number of higher education students taking at least one online course. Additionally, there are no signs that this upward trend is going to change any time soon.
For colleges and universities, as well as for instructors, this means supporting students who aren’t attending a brick and mortar classroom on a regular basis, if at all. Having served as director of technology at an online university, I’ve seen firsthand how institutions have risen to this challenge by getting creative in order to enhance the online learning experience. Below are three recommendations for setting students up for success in an online course.
1. Set Clear Guidelines
Students in online courses are learning in a non-traditional setting, and because of this a traditional set of classroom rules may not necessarily translate well.
Institutions can address this by setting clear guidelines at the institutional-level through a code of conduct specific to online courses and programs. A well-defined set of standards lets students know what is expected of them and how they can maintain their academic integrity.
Because the classroom experience has evolved, what constitutes academic dishonesty is no longer black and white and there is definitely a gray area, particularly when it comes to online learning. Identifying parameters takes the guesswork out of following the rules for students, letting them focus instead on learning course material. For example, with so much technology at students’ fingertips it’s important to note the difference between using technology as a learning tool and when it is being used inappropriately. A good code of conduct will outline when such tools can be used, such as for assignments or papers, and when they are not allowed, such as on exams.