Before the module starts
1. Provide carefully planned generic induction material
Induction activities should help learners to become familiar with the provided online learning spaces and resources, and to assimilate information about the support available to them before these are put to use during studies.
Ensure students are properly introduced to the software you are using to host the module / programme. It can be useful to house an overview in a separate module, open for the duration of the whole programme. Giving all the information at the beginning can be overwhelming, so decide what is needed before you start and what is needed ‘just-in-time’. Think also about how you name this area – calling it induction may give students the idea it’s only to be visited at the beginning. Perhaps call it “Guide to Resources.” Carefully map with clear signposting initial resources that may be of possible value to learners.
Develop well-designed cognitive maps. Inform self-directed navigation of materials and provision. Avoid being prescriptive; enable learners to decide what they want to know, and in what order. Provide a clear impression of the support services that will be available, preferably mapped in an informative, though again not a directive, way. Include essential contacts for support services. Ensure that availability and method are clear for online learners.
Evidence shows that Higher Education students are most likely to feel part of a programme (as distinct from departmental, school and institutional levels).
Example: Vera created an area called ‘The Hub’ for her programme. This had information about the course (including the handbook) and a computer guide introducing key software being used in the modules. The Hub was also laid out in the same way as the modules to help students navigate their way round.