Student Orientation, Student Services, and Computer Access

AuthorRebecca Purdom - Greg Brandes - Karen Westwood
Chapter 5
Student Orientation, Student Services, and
Computer Access
Before students even begin the program, institutions should lay the groundwork for students’ success with
clear expectations, thorough orientation, and attentive student services staff. Student service offices and
personnel should be reconfigured and retrained to meet the particular needs of distance learning students.
This chapter addresses:
Orientation. Distance education students are in need of orientation, not only to the law school
environment, but to the technology that will be used in their courses. How can a program
utilize a good orientation process to accommodate both of these needs?
Student services. How can various student service officesincluding advising, career
services, and student servicesprovide distance education students with full access to their
services in a meaningful way?
System requirements generally. What particular technology hardware and software should be
required for students participating in distance learning classes and programs?
System requirements across multiple devices. With the proliferation of mobile devices, what
is the obligation of a distance legal education program to make coursework available on
multiple devices and platforms?
Many online students access a distance learning opportunity because they are not able to participate in a
residential campus experience: jobs, families, illness, or other factors make distance learning the only
option for pursuing further education. Because these students often have significant life events competing
with their ability to attend school, they must be provided customized student support services.
Most distance education programs recommend using the course platform to deliver orientation
programming. This exposes students to the platform and is a first step in introducing them to the
technology. It also provides a means of identifying students who are having difficulty early on. Many
schools require students to complete a proficiency test of sorts that demonstrates their ability to use the
course platform, and tests whether a student’s computer is adequately configured to access course
information and assignments. This test could include, for example, uploading an assignment, completing
a short quiz, and posting to a discussion board. Along with the proficiency test, other uses of the online
orientation introduce students to various student support services, such as advising, academic success, and
career services and the designated people in those departments who can help them.

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