The importance of onboarding professionally is widely accepted. It would be absurd these days to start a new role at a new organization without a plan in place to ensure you have access to the tools and resources you needed to do your job, right? The process of onboarding is just as vitally important for students, especially as they begin to navigate the world of remote learning.
Onboarding is the process of familiarizing a new team member or group with the processes, tools, and resources of an organization. This is especially necessary for students, who are stepping into a new world of online education. Not only do students need to adapt to the technology that connects them to their classes, but they also need to adjust their learning, communication, and collaboration styles to succeed in a remote learning environment.
Onboarding is the first step to ensuring that students are supported and encouraged to succeed while learning online. In this article, we’ll cover three keys to successfully onboarding your students:
- Make a plan
- Get to know your students
- Compile your resources
Implementing these keys to onboarding will help you leverage new ways of engaging your students, helping to keep them on task, motivated, and ready to learn!
1. Make a Plan
Having a plan is essential to a successful onboarding. You can check out our tips for creating a three phase onboarding plan in our article Integrating Your Technology Into Your Onboarding Plan.
Your onboarding plan will likely be a part of your course outline, integrated into the first days of your online course. Refrain from jumping right into the course material or introducing new topics too quickly. Your students need time to adjust to the remote learning environment. Not only are they getting used to the application you’re using to host the online class, but they also need to get comfortable with talking, listening, and retaining information in an online environment.
Start with tips about the remote learning platform, expectations for online classes, and office hour policies. Walk through how to communicate and ask questions during the class, and where to go for help outside of class hours. Provide tips for staying focused, working in remote teams, and other strategies to assist with remote learning.
When you do start to introduce course concepts, start slowly. This will help your students get accustomed to your remote teaching style and determine the best way to retain information and gain an understanding of the topics you discuss.
PRO TIP: Don’t start digging into course concepts until day two, at minimum. Ensure students can access and reconnect to the learning platform, have the tech they need to communicate, and are comfortable enough with the remote environment that they’re able to devote their attention for the duration of the class.
2. Get to Know Your Students
In a classroom settings, you inherently get to know the students in your room. You come to know their personalities and interests, and can often see when they’re losing focus or struggling to grasp the concept your discussing. In a remote learning environment, this doesn’t happen naturally. You’ll need to be intentional about getting to know your students, and ask them to be forthcoming when they’re struggling to stay focused on understand.
To mitigate, meet with your students one-on-one, or in small groups where possible. Take this time to have a casual, informal conversation about their goals, learning styles, and interest in the course. Discuss how they’ll stay engaged, and how to reach out for clarification or help. Taking the time to get to know your students will help increase class engagement and communication in your remote learning environment.
PRO TIP: Class too big to schedule individual or small group sessions? Designate ‘virtual buddies’ – a peer in the class who students can check-in with as the course progresses. This can help alleviate some of the loss of interpersonal and social interactions that are missing with remote learning.
3. Compile Your Resources
This key to a successful onboarding might not be the most obvious, but it is one of the most important for students in a remote environment.
When students join a remote course, or are completing a grade, certification, or degree online, there are lots of tools and resources at their disposal. This might include:
- Institutional information, such as facilities, inclusivity guidelines, and fee schedules
- Course information, such as the syllabus, project descriptions, and due dates
- Resources for working online, such as tips for engaging, communicating, and collaborating remotely and retaining information in an online learning environment
- Mental health resources to ensure students are looking after their mental well-being
- And more!
While some of these resources will be consistent for students across grades, programs, courses, or organizations, most of it will be course and teacher/professor specific. Since you’re not printing this information for students to take home, where will they find and refer back to all of these resources? Having everything in one place – not just for each course, but for the organization as a whole – can help ensure students have quick access to helpful resources when they need them.
While this can be something as simple as an email or PDF, we recommend a tool that acts as a hub for students (and staff) across the organization.
Using Navo to Onboard in a Remote Learning Environment
Navo is an organization-managed link library that can be accessed from anywhere. It creates a central location for students to access, where all of their institutional, program, and course information is available from one place, regardless of the tools or resources you provide.
Using Navo Audiences, create an ‘Organization’ audience, and a ‘Course’ audience. Add all of your students (and staff!) to the organization audience, then add each student to their courses for the semester.
PRO TIP: You can create a ‘Staff’ and ‘Professors/Teachers’ audience for tools and resources that are available to your organization’s staff.
Add resources and assign them an audience. For example, for any resources that are available to the entire organization, you’ll select the ‘Organization’ audience. For any resources that are specific to a certain course, you’ll select that course audience.
Give teachers and professors the administrative rights to add their own links. They can add tools and resources that are required for their class and make changes throughout the semester if needed.
Give students access through their school credentials, and have each teacher or professor walk through the tools in resources included in Navo as part of their onboarding process to ensure user adoption. Once students are able to access their class resources in Navo, they can filter by course or search for a resource to get quick access.
Update each semester as needed!
Onboarding is just as important to educational institutions as it is in the professional world. However, the process becomes absolutely essential with the increase in virtual classrooms. In order to set students in a remote learning environment up for success, its important to have an onboarding plan that encompasses a review of the tools and resources available to them, while working to understand your students on a personal level. Compile all your resources in one location, preferably in an application managed by the organization, for best chance of success.
Remote learning is here for the long term, and learning how to start your students off on the right fit will be vital to their success.
Interested in Navo? Let’s chat!