Students have not been required to complete an online orientation. However, both the Advancing Online Task Force and the E-Learning Management Advisory Team have been discussing this issue. Many believe that students should demonstrate their basic computer abilities, including adequate connection speed, before enrolling for an online course. Others do not favor this additional potential barrier. At its last Fall 2008 meeting, the Advancing Online group suggested that this decision continue to be left to the discretion of individual instructors. At a subsequent meeting, the E-Learning Management Advisory Team did not wish to perpetuate this inconsistency. They are exploring a method by which individuals who have demonstrated minimal online skills (log in to FerrisConnect, send an e-mail attachment, post to a discussion thread, etc.) would have a notation on their student record that would enable them to enroll for any future online section. The vehicle for assuring this competency has not yet been determined, but these ideas have been floated: (1) all incoming freshmen get an hour of instruction in the FSUS 100 course and their “check-off” would occur then, (2) the Testing Office receive “tests” that would be submitted by transfer students (a test that would not take more than 20 minutes), and (3) the Records Office adds a column to the student record that must be checked before a student may register for an online course (in essence, a “hold”). The Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning will work with faculty to develop this possible test for easy administration and evaluation. Note that these are ideas being explored, and no final decisions have been made.
At the present time, it is the responsibility of individual faculty members to incorporate any desired “orientation” into their pre-entry communications. The most feasible approach is for the completion of an online orientation to be the first assignment for students in every course. Individual faculty could then tailor the orientation to meet particular expectations. Enid Carlson-Nagel, Bill Knapp, and others in the FCTL will place orientation modules within the FerrisConnect platform for use and/or adaptation by any faculty member using the system.