Freshman orientation is mandatory at most colleges, where tour guides spend a few hours showing students where the library, computer lab, and academic buildings are located. Not all students, however, intend to spend much time on campus. Now, for those taking online classes, Edison State College has rolled out virtual orientation sessions, reports the News-Press of Ft. Meyers, Fla. Instead of pointing to the library, the virtual orientation shows students the school’s online bookstore. And instead of showing them which buildings house math or science classes, they’re shown where to find links to their courses. "If I hadn’t taken that online training, I would be totally lost," said freshman JoAnn Vollano, 57, of Naples, who is taking her microcomputers class online this fall. In 2008, Edison rolled out an associate in arts degree entirely online, and that push sparked a popularity surge for online classes. This fall, 2,876 of 16,297 degree-seeking students, or 17.6 percent, are enrolled in at least one online class. Many hybrid courses include on-campus and online components. Erich Hochmeister, Edison’s training and development specialist, said the 45-minute online orientation sessions are required for all students taking their first online class. Edison uses a special software program that hosts its online courses, and technical glitches often cause as much headache as the coursework itself…

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