As a prerequisite to taking the first course online, all students will receive technical orientation to prepare them for participating in web-based course work. This orientation will be scheduled individually with the student prior to the beginning of coursework.
What makes a successful web-based online student?
A. Self-directed and self-motivated
There is tremendous freedom and flexibility built in to a web-based course, but most of the classroom interaction is online rather than the traditional face-to-face contact of an on-campus course. Therefore, self-initiated motivation is needed for successful completion of an internet-based course. How self directed and self motivated are you? Can you make and set reasonable goals for completing each section of a course, along with necessary assignments and projects?
B. Self organized with well developed time management skills
Successful students learn to organize themselves and manage their time effectively, enabling them to keep up with the required course assignments and projects. These personal management skills are even more critical if you are enrolled in a web-based classroom environment, since most of the required course assignments will be conducted by you, alone, at your computer.
C. Strategizing and problem solving ability
As a student of web-based courses, you will be challenged by the need to juggle a multitude of tasks all somehow related to course activities and assignments. You will achieve a greater degree of success to the extent that you can strategize and problem solve for any number of issues that arise during the learning process.
“Speak up” in a timely fashion when problems arise. Your instructor will not necessarily be aware of the difficulties you are having unless you communicate them directly. Due to the unique nature of web-based learning, certain problems are not as visible as they would be if courses were conducted within a traditional classroom. If you have technical difficulties, make sure you “stay on top” of the problems and seek assistance right away. Be able to give a list of “symptoms” to the technical support persons(s) and follow through to see that these issues are resolved. If a student has justifiable extenuating circumstances that can be appropriately documented, a time extension request may be submitted to the instructor to allow for successful completion of course requirements. However, the student’s progress in his or her program may be held up until previous requirements are successfully completed.
E. Auditory/listening skills
Student learners who have acquired strong auditory learning skills will have little difficulty in assimilating the course lectures (usually delivered by audio/visual video streaming).
Note: the tonal characteristics generated by the video streaming technology can sometimes alter the voice pattern of the speaker, requiring the listener to increase the concentration level of receptive listening skills. If you will be using adaptive technology (i.e., screen reader devices etc.), additional auditory receptive skills are needed to access the high volume of text assigned as required reading in the program courses. If you are using a computer along with adaptive equipment involving Braille and speech output, a minimum of 128 MB of RAM are commonly required to access the online course delivery system used for some of the required program courses. Screen reader programs such as JAWS will require the newest versions, 3.5 or 3.7, or 4.0 in order to access the program course delivery software.
F. Reading and comprehension skills
You will need strong reading and comprehension skills in order to successfully complete the required program courses. Can you read and comprehend what you read? If you know you didn’t understand something, do you know what to reread in order to increase your comprehension of the written material? Textbook reading assignments are only a portion of the reading you will do since most classroom communication is written via electronic media (e.g., class interaction and discussion, individual communication between instructor and student, and between students).
G. Writing ability
If you enjoy communicating in writing, you have already mastered part of the essential set of skills required for handling the activities required in the program courses. If spelling is problematic for you, consider creating pieces of text in a separate word processing application program (with the ability to use spell check editing), and then copy and paste the edited text into the WebCT system at the appropriate place.
N.B. Interactive software application programs are essential for the performance of online courses. Many of the program courses utilize WebCT, a commercial course delivery system package with interactive software and a video streaming format as a major avenue to deliver information.
H. Openness and willingness to share with others about life, work, and educational experiences as part of learning process
Class discussions and simulated learning experiences in the UA Little Rock courses are designed to facilitate the learning and development of specific instructional objectives. By maintaining an openness and willingness to share with others, students increase their own learning potential and that of other learners. Students are expected to engage in appropriate professional behavior at all times when participating in the program (e.g., communicating respectfully with others when engaging in online dialogue as well as in face-to-face interactions). Students learning to become Rehabilitation Professionals must develop an ability to accept other people in a nonjudgmental way (e.g., their value systems and lifestyles), even though they may be totally different from their own.
I. Commitment and dedication
Internet-based courses require a high degree of personal commitment and dedication. You can assume that at least 4 to 15 hours per week per course will be necessary in order to complete course objectives. Web-based classrooms have many conveniences, but they are not any less demanding of you in terms of the amount of energy, commitment, and time required to complete a course. In fact, several students have stated that they felt it was more demanding than they anticipated.
J. Critical thinking skills (be able to think ideas through and challenge own thinking processes)
Since the interactive dialogue in a web-based course requires student participation and response, students must be willing to share their ideas but also allow others to challenge what they have submitted. Your ability to exercise critical thinking skills (problem solve, task analyze, apply knowledge, and individualize the learning process) will guide you in the meeting of course requirements, and will contribute to your mastery of requisite skills.
K. Have the necessary equipment
Students must have the necessary computer equipment (computer, modem, phone line) and software, as well as compatible adaptive equipment if needed.
L. Basic computer and technical skills and a willingness to learn new technologies
Basic computer literacy and assistive technology are essential components of the programs. A willingness to learn new technologies is essential. Students are required to demonstrate basic competency/proficiency in a number of skill areas (e.g., utilizing assistive technology and/or adaptive devices, as well as standard computer equipment and software applications).
N.B. Students are expected to have a full contingency plan for use of a backup computer system that can be accessed in the event that the student’s computer breaks down while he/she is enrolled in online courses. Possible alternative computer resources: public libraries, agency owned computer (if you are currently employed your agency may allow use of an agency computer for completion of course requirements), friends or family members.