The Use of Technology in Online Orientation: Bridging the Gap

Walters-Archie, Alecia
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Advancements in technology have made a significant impact on higher education and in particular distance and open learning. It is now possible to reduce feelings of isolation and alienation, lack of motivation and address the need for greater synchronous interaction for distance learners using Information and Communication Technology (ICT). In distance education it is critical that effort and emphasis be placed on ensuring that the transition from the traditional classroom to the virtual environment has minimal challenges for distance learners. // In this regard, the provision of student support as pre-course, in-course and post-course activities is an important aspect of making such a transition. Technology has revolutionized the way in which orientation is organized for distance learners. The International Technology Education Association (ITEA, 2000a) alluded to the fact that “recent research on learning finds that many students learn best in experiential ways by doing, rather than only by seeing or hearing” (p. 5).1 This paper will share online orientation approaches that are currently utilized by the Programme Delivery Department at The University of the West Indies Open Campus. In the Open Campus, experiential activities have ensured that the distance learners who access the orientation are exposed to the actual nature of the learning environment before registration. The technology is used to organize an enriching start-off experience for new students. // This paper will outline the four-phased approach used for orientation of students: (1) Introduction to the Online/Virtual Classroom (Navigation Skills); (2) Introduction to the Programme Structure; (3) Introduction to the Online/Virtual classroom (Practical Activities); (4) Interacting with Actual Course Instructors. The perceptions of the participants will be presented as vignettes from student testimonials analysed through codes and themes from the data. // Paper ID: 225

Technology and Innovation,Open and Distance Learning (ODL),Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
Caribbean and Americas