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Developing an online course to support student transitions to university

Johnston, Aidan and Ramsay, Howard (2017) Developing an online course to support student transitions to university. In: 3rd International Enhancement in Higher Education Conference, 2017-06-06 - 2017-06-08, Radisson Blu Hotel.

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Abstract

The University of Strathclyde developed "We are Strathclyde", an online course developed to aid the transition of incoming undergraduate students into university life. Launching in August 2016 and running over four weeks, the course introduced students to their institution, the culture of higher education learning and support services available to them. A core aim was to instill the sense of a "Strathclyde identity" before arrival. Students were introduced to academic skills while orientating themselves in university life. They engaged in active and reflective tasks and explored a range of key skills while being introduced to a diverse range of opinion, comment and advice from current students. The course was run on the University’s virtual learning environment and was designed to fit around the lives of students. Emphasis was placed on learning as a social activity with knowledge shared and developed between participants. This approach was supported by weekly live broadcast sessions with senior staff. Almost 1000 students were introduced to the institution through the course. Post-course feedback indicated that they felt more knowledgeable, supported and confident in embarking on university life. In this paper, we examine how the design process was grounded in theory of social learning, building on lessons learned from the development of a suite of successful and engaging MOOCs.