Orientation is the first stepping-stone in a student’s educational experience. The California Student Success Task Force notes that, “Extensive research has documented the importance of assessment, orientation, and informed education planning to set incoming students on a pathway to a successful outcome.”
Developing a relevant and effective orientation program is crucial to ensuring both institution and student goals are met. As more and more studies show the direct correlation between orientation attendance and retention and graduation rates, 100% attendance at orientation has become an increasingly important priority. However, mandatory orientation can present a conflict for students’ diverse schedules, locations, and needs. Schools throughout the nation have found that online orientation can resolve this conflict.
Online Orientation not only caters to today’s digital native students, but is provides convenience, flexibility, and data-driven improvements. Many university departments, including admissions, alumni relations, development, are seeking to improve data to drive their operations.
Without relevant content and structure, the benefits of online orientation cannot be appreciated. Our experience in the online orientation industry – coupled with feedback from current customers – has enabled us to develop a set of best practices colleges and universities should consider when developing an online orientation program.
The incoming generation of students is accustomed to using multiple forms of technology and receiving digital information from a multitude of platforms each day. In order to keep them engaged, a wide variety of multimedia is required to hold their attention. Utilizing a diversity of colors, texts, images, audio recordings and videos will not only help engage students with your content, but will also aide in their comprehension and retention. A variety of visual and audio presentations also ensures that you’re accommodating multiple learning styles.
Keep it Short & Sweet
This is a good rule of thumb for any type of survey, quiz or even video. Attention spans are shrinking, and instant gratification has become increasingly important. In today’s age of multitasking, your message must be clear and concise to keep your audience engaged.
For online orientation, this means providing only the information that is absolutely necessary. Include important information up front and utilize bullet points to get your point across. If there is detailed content in a particular section, it is best to split that content into two or more pages, making for more digestible servings of information.
The truth is, many students won’t read through and comprehend information unless they are being tested. To be certain that students are ingesting and understanding the information provided, short quizzes throughout your orientation program are extremely helpful.
Quizzes also serve to “clear things up.” When students answer a question incorrectly, you should provide them with the correct answer and an explanation. This will help reinforce a more thorough understanding of the content you want them to possess. Most schools we surveyed require a passing rate of 70%-85% to verify that the information is understood.
For a complete list of best practices, download our free white paper here.