There is debate whether online classes are the future of education. At the very least, it will be a supplement to traditional face-to-face classes. Technology won’t be going backward anytime soon, and as technology evolves, so will the content of online classes.
At American River College, over 300 online classes are offered and most face-to-face classes have online content on Desire2Learn. But a lot of students come to ARC with limited knowledge of how to use D2L. There needs to be a better effort from the school to educate students on how to properly use it.
There are tutorials online to help students orientate themselves with D2L, but a person who has limited knowledge in computers to begin with may not be able to find them in the first place. These tutorials are also not mandatory.
With so many classes using online content, it should be required that students take and pass a class that teaches them how to use D2L before they can register for classes at ARC. The class would only take two or three hours to complete and would ensure the student could use D2L.
“There’s a very large drop rate between the time that students actually enroll in the class and by the time the census date (comes),” said Nancy Reitz, dean of mathematics.
Part of that is due to a lack of education on what an online class entails. Some students don’t know what they are getting into. If students have to learn about D2L before registering, they are much more likely to take advantage of the content available online and be more successful in the class.
The English department has a three-hour face-to-face orientation for their online composition classes, which is a step in the right direction.
“It gives the instructor a chance to show students how to use D2L and other technology,” said Tammy Montgomery, dean of English. “They go, they see what is involved in it, and then a lot of them don’t come back. We have a lot of attrition after the orientation.”
Because of the orientation, the English department is able to educate students while at the same time identify students who are a fit for online classes. Students get to find out if online classes are a fit for them before the class officially starts instead of after the first week of class.
It’s a win-win situation, and other departments should follow suit and make it mandatory for students to take tutorials on how to use online content.