AN ONLINE INDUCTION PROGRAMME: PREPARING DIVERSE STUDENTS FOR AN ONLINE MASTERS DEGREE
Coventry University (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Conference name: 4th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-10 March, 2010
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:New undergraduate and postgraduate students at UK universities typically have an induction programme for about a week immediately before the start of their courses. This fulfils a mixture of functions, administrative, social, and course-related. However, although this transition period is important in the integration of students, little research has been carried out into induction programmes. Moreover, most research that looks at the integration of students into Higher Education focuses on first year undergraduates, but there are important challenges in relation to the integration of new postgraduate students who have been out of university for some time, especially when these students are undertaking an online distance learning course.
Informal enquiries suggest that in contrast to the courses themselves, where learning outcomes are typically specified in detail, the outcomes of induction programmes are rarely articulated, and the resulting student experience can be very varied in quality. How can we provide an appropriate induction programme for students who are returning to Higher Education to begin online postgraduate study?
This paper discusses the induction programme for a new online master’s degree in Health Communication Design. The students are typically in full time employment and studying part-time, so the first requirement was for a “focussed induction” (Harvey and Drew 2006) with clearly defined outcomes which would not be perceived by the students as wasting their time. A priority for the course team was to use the induction period to familiarise students with the software (Moodle and Wimba Live Classroom), and to trouble-shoot any technical problems before the start of the first module: this was a significant factor in our decision to provide the induction programme online rather than face to face. The students had widely varying backgrounds and some had been out of education for many years, so a further consideration was to ensure a common basic level of skills in online library use and referencing.
This paper will discuss the aims of our online induction programme, the ways in which we set about achieving them, and how the induction programme worked in practice.
Harvey L and Drew S (2006) “The first-year experience: briefing paper, overview for higher
education policy makers and practitioners”. QAA available from http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/York/documents/ourwork/research/FYE/web0577_the_first_year_experience_
overview_for_higher_education_policy_makers_and_practitioners.pdf (accessed 27 November 2009)
Keywords: Online learning, Postgraduate student induction, Online student support, Transition to Higher Education.