July 25, 2018

Quick Chat: Designing for Success

Jennifer Lock discusses her work to improve online student orientation
Jennifer Lock

Jennifer Lock is exploring ways to better prepare students for online education.

istance learning has evolved over the decades to the point where students today can enroll in a program offered anywhere in the world regardless of where they physically reside. While improved access and technology has helped to democratize education, it has also brought with it a number of challenges for institutions offering online education.

According to Werklund School of Education Teaching & Learning Associate Dean Jennifer Lock, the diversity of the online student body offers both benefits and challenges. One benefit is the wealth of experience these students bring to the classroom while one challenge is that their proficiency in online learning environments runs the spectrum from novice to expert.

“We need to think differently about how we are preparing our graduate students to come into these online programs,” says Lock.

With this goal in mind, Lock applied for a University of Calgary Teaching & Learning grant to better understand how the Werklund School can set students up for success.

Lock’s “Designing for Success: Developing an Online Student Orientation Program” research project provided students with five days of training on several online learning tools. Students were then interviewed after six months and one year to gain insight into their experiences using the online tools as well as the skills they gained during the orientation. Feedback was then used to modify the instruction offered by the school.

In this Quick Chat, Lock outlines the findings of her research and plans for sharing best practices with Werklund School students.