How to Help Adult Learners Find Success in Online Classes both Inside and Outside of the Classroom
Tips from Within the Classroom• Adult learners tend to like structure and organization, so having a course that has a good, logical flow and is organized very efficiently is helpful.• Students really enjoy having live chat sessions with instructors, beyond “office hours.” – Great way to be proactive, set a positive tone for the term, and address any questions or concerns from students in the beginning of the course. – It is good to have at least 2 different days/times for chat sessions with students (perhaps one during the day and one in the late evening or weekend) to best accommodate student needs. – Polling students (Blackboard has a great survey tool) is another good way to get a sense of the best days/times for students to participate in chat sessions.• It also is very helpful to create a video of yourself welcoming your students during the first week of the class makes it seem like you are more approachable as an instructor.
Tips from Within the Classroom• Many adult learners tend to face a lack of technology skills.• Create a video that provides students with a visual of how to do something or what you expect.• As an example, you can use Course Messages, rather than e-mail, to keep all communication in the course contained within the course shell. – Create a short video (using Jing, a free screen capture software) to show students how to send a message using this function.• Another example is with the use of Excel. Many students have never used spreadsheet software and struggle with assignments that requires them to use the SUM and AVG functions. – Create a 1-2 minute video that shows them how to complete this function in Excel. Post it in the Announcements a couple of weeks before the assignment is due, for those that like to work ahead.
First Step: Awareness• Last fall we piloted an evaluation with about 400 students who took an assessment called SmarterMeasure.• This assessment provided students with information about their skills and readiness in personal attributes, like time management, willingness to ask for help, and locus of control; life factors, such as availability of time and a dedicated place to study and support resources from family and friends; Learning styles; reading skills; technical knowledge and proficiency; and typing skills.• We found that students needed help in the personal attributes and life factors areas in greater numbers than in the other areas.• With this knowledge ahead of time, students and college staff can work together to make sure that students are aware of the issues they face and provide the appropriate supports.
Strategies• Discussion Availability – List your discussion questions in the syllabus or in Blackboard so students can access them and prepare in advance but not post them to the Discussion Board until the assigned week. – This is also a good practice for any assignments you may have in your course.• Exam Scheduling – One of the most important considerations for adult learners is flexibility in when they can take their exams. – One good method is to keep your exam open for one week (including a weekend), but limit the actual time a student has to take the test (i.e., 2 hours). – Allows for greater flexibility for the student – Allows the instructor to stay within their preferred parameters (i.e., test-taking time, number of attempts).
Available Resources Outside of the Classroom• The District Welcome Center provides registration, advising & financial aid assistancehttp://www.fscj.edu/mydegree/welcome-center/index.phpThis website provides hours of operation and contact information for the DistrictWelcome Center.
Available Resources Outside of the Classroom• Career Development Centers help students to identify their majors and transition planning.• The library has many online research and reference resources.• Local students have access to on campus Tutoring services and student life and leadership activities.• The new Student Assistance Program similar to an employee assistance program to provide personal, legal and financial counseling services.• The Open Campus Student Success staff members are available to help with any referrals that might be needed.
Resource Department or Contact Number Website & Alternative Contact 1-904-359-5433 http://www.fscj.edu/mydegree/welcome-center/index.php Advising, Enrollment and Welcome Center 1-877-633-5950 Financial Aid firstname.lastname@example.org Open Campus 1-904-632-3044 Linda.Ludwig@fscj.edu Appeals Open Campus 1-904-632-5020 http://www.fscj.edu/mydegree/distance-learning/testing/index.php Assessment and Testing Assessment and Certification Center Student Bookstore CafeScribe Support CafeScribe http://www.fscj.edu/mydegree/bookstore/index.php www.efollett.com Helpdesk 1-877- Success 612-2233. http://fscj-support. cafescribe.comResources Concerns about course or instruction and Overrides Open Campus 1-904-632-5055 Cindy.Mcnally@fscj.edu http://www.fscj.edu/mydegree/library-learning-commons/index.php Library & Learning Commons and Tutoring Student Assistance Program 1-904-384-1800 http://www.fscj.edu/mydegree/student-assistance/index.php (provides students with the (local) or 1-855- resources they need to cope 384-1800 (toll-free) with issues that may be affecting their studies) Online Support Center 1-904-632-3151 http://www.fscj.edu/mydegree/student-computing/index.php Technical Assistance (Helpdesk) 1-877-572-8895 Connections Student 1-904-632-5036 Tuition payment, refunds Portal/ https://connections.fscj.edu/web/guest/home URC Business Office
Available Resources Outside of the Classroom • The District Learning website provides numerous links to helpful information for online students and FSCJ web pages regarding student serviceshttp://www.fscj.edu/mydegree/distance-learning/index.php
How to Prevent Disruptive Online Behavior• It is important to be proactive in the course and set the stage in the beginning.• Provide a guide for discussion postings outlining the proper and respectful tone that is necessary for discussions and interactions with other students and the professor.• Include a “netiquette” guide for those who may not be familiar with computers and the online environment, expressing that a comment can easily be mistaken for a different meaning, particularly without the aid of facial expressions and body language.
Tips for Dealing with Disruptive Online Behavior• Rather than singling out the student in the “public” discussion board, contact the student (by phone or via e-mail) to discuss the inappropriateness of their behavior and help them to understand the greater impact of their actions.• Remove any posts that were inappropriate or offensive (making a copy of it first to keep for reference), to ensure that the inflammatory behavior does not negatively affect the class environment.
Academic Dishonesty• As an instructor, you play an integral role in the discipline process for student conduct, particularly in the area of academic integrity.• As a proactive measure to this, you can create a 10- question quiz on plagiarism and require students to complete this with 100% accuracy as part of the non- attendance drop. This ensures that they are aware of what plagiarism is before the class even begins.• Many adult learners who have been out of the academic environment for some time may need a refresher on how and when to cite sources.
Potential Areas of Student Misconduct in the online environment• Cheating in any form.• Lewd or indecent conduct or attire. (This can be visual.)• The use of indecent or abusive language.• Deliberate interference with the rights of others.• Sexual harassment.• Stalking (to repeatedly follow another person so as to put that person in fear for his/her safety; this includes cyber stalking).
Potential Areas of Student Misconduct in the online environment (Continued)• Accessing, altering or deleting College computer files/systems.• Falsification of records.• Repeated offenses of a less serious nature.• Violation of the Computing Facilities Use Agreement. (This includes maintaining security of student ID and password information to ensure that unauthorized access to student records and systems does not occur.)• Any other offense reasonably deemed to be contrary to the best interest of the College.
Academic Dishonesty• Cheating – giving or taking of any information or material with the intent of wrongfully aiding one’s self or another in academic work considered in the determination of course grade or the outcome of a standardized test.• Plagiarism – the act of stealing or passing off as one’s own work the words, ideas or conclusions of another as if the work submitted were the product of one’s own thinking rather than an idea or product derived from another source.
Academic Dishonesty & Cheating• A faculty member who has a concern regarding a student’s conduct in the area of academic dishonesty or cheating may choose to meet with the student directly.• Once the student is notified, it is advised that the student resolve the matter with the faculty member. However, at any time the student may request a hearing with the Open Campus Associate Dean of Student Success.
Faculty Actions• Verbally warn the student that continuation or repetition of misconduct of this nature may be cause for further disciplinary action.• Require the student to retake the test or rewrite the assignment.• Require the student to withdraw from the course.• Fail the student for the assignment.• Fail the student for the course.• Refer the student(s) to the Open Campus Associate Dean of Student Success for possible suspension or dismissal.
Disciplinary Hearings and Actions• Investigation• Possible Actions: – Fines – Withholding of diplomas or transcripts – Probation – Suspension – Dismissal College Catalog: Student Rights and Responsibilities
Benefit of Adult Learners• Adult learners usually come with a wealth of experience and are able to share their knowledge with other students. It is nice for other students who may not have experience in the field to learn more about these intricacies from those who are working in a particular industry.• Additionally, adult learners tend to take the lead in many areas, such as discussion boards and group projects, and can really be a positive influence in the course, helping to guide other students who may not be on track.• Engaging them in these areas and letting them know that you would like for them to share their knowledge with the class creates a great partnership in furthering their education.