Students are looking for increased levels of scaffolding and structure to help their transition to engaging with the Virtual University. Our students do not define themselves by their studies, they “Perform the University”, that is, they go to a class, read an article, or do an assessment as one part of a large range of roles in their week. Courses that can facilitate fixed structures of scheduled events and virtual places will aid in resolving this problem experience by students in Semester 1.
Scaffolding is necessary for all student activity. Where the use of technology is required, or desired, we need to integrate training sessions, onboarding activity, and induction exercises to ensure baseline skills are present in the cohort. We cannot assume prior knowledge, nor assume generational clichés impart skill sets to students. This includes scaffolding expectations around assessment performance, class participation, and how to guides for studying.Staff and students will need to be introduced to technologies, and online skills need to be scaffolded into the early weeks of the course, including
- online course etiquette,
- attendance requirements for live events
- participation expectations
- how to use key systems (eg forums)
- any requirements for third party systems (eg google docs, padlet)
- how to learn in Online by Design’s distance education mode
Any technology introduced into a course needs to be scaffolded into the course, including instruction, training, and assessment of accessibility of the technology for the student cohort. There are no assumptions to be made of innate skills or knowledge of technology based on student cohort demographics. Student cohorts may also benefit from induction activities to create a sense of community, space and place within a subject.