This week we were asked to reflect on using the tools we have been using in this class and how we would use these tools for distance education. I was excited to see this blog prompt because I do work with distance students, and I have been doing some thinking around how I can use technology to offer better support to these students. Dayley and Hoffman identified that the student supports available for online students are not as strong for those participating in face-to-face courses. In their words:
Although student services for online students saw significant progress in the last few years, there is still room for improvement, with the ultimate goal of providing as many opportunities as possible or distance students as those on a physical campus.
At the University of Regina there is certainly room for improvement in terms of supports and services for online student. In theory we offer the same supports to distance students as we do to face-to-face courses. For example, we have phone meetings with students to offer learning skills support and do academic advising and writing over email. In addition, we have some of our Student Success Workshops available online, and have a comprehensive online Orientation for new students. However, as Dayley and Hoffman assert, students who are away from the physical campus notice differences between “customary tangible experiences” and online offerings in things like library, counselling, and tutoring services. We notice that a far lower percentage of distance students use our services than those attending courses on the main campus. Part of that can likely be attributed to the fact that the services we offer to distance students don’t have the same personal feel.
I believe that we can make the gap between online and physical student services smaller by using better tools, many of which I was introduced to in ECI 833 Please check out this GoAnimate video I made highlighting some of the ways that I think the Student Success Centre can better serve distance students by utilizing technology.
As I mentioned in the video, these are just some of the ways that the Student Success Centre could use technology to better support students. One thing I feel that is missing, and was pointed out by Dayley and Hoffman, is the opportunity for off-campus students to engage socially. Erin and Launel brought up the need for elementary level students to participate in face-to-face activities for socialization purposes. In addition, Andy talked about a need for a physical community for learners to engage in. I feel like the same things are needed for university students, and that students who take all of their classes online miss out on a critical part of university.
Do you have any ideas on how we could use technology to help university students engage in activities and feel like they are part of the University of Regina community?