Skyline College, in San Bruno, California, serves a diverse student population that includes Hispanic, Filipino, Asian, and White students. Our approximately 10,000 students are largely of typical college age: 45% are aged 18-22. Many are first-generation Americans and English-language learners.
The Skyline College Hybrid & Online Community of Practice (CoP) was formed in August 2017 to support our distance education instructors. In our effort to make students part of the conversation in working with faculty, we decided to reach out to students by holding focus groups and interviews. Students were asked to share the challenges that they faced in taking classes online, as well as suggestions that they have for improving online courses.
In December 2017 we held our first round of student focus groups. We have followed this initial round with more focus groups and student interviews. We have been mining these data as we produce content and workshops for Skyline DE instructors, and in this session we will share them with the OTC community. We will also discuss strategies for addressing these student needs that members of our CoP have been developing and implementing.
Skyline College students taking online courses identify four main types of difficulty: (1) student-related challenges such as procrastination, plus issues with group work; (2) technical issues with Canvas and with third-party platforms; (3) navigation difficulties in Canvas courses; (4) difficulty communicating with instructors; (5) feelings of isolation and disconnection from the instructor and from the other students.
After presenting our survey results, we will lead a discussion with the session group: Which of these challenges ring true for your student population? Have you identified any that we have not?
For the rest of the session time, participants will work in pairs or teams to identify and discuss specific strategies that they could use in their own courses. The goal is for session participants to create their own “tool kits” to address the needs of their own student population.
• Identify challenges that learners face when taking online courses.
• Identify elements of their own Canvas courses that could be improved to better serve students.
• Develop activities and practices that respond to student challenges online.