New online orientation video seeks to further engage students

Every Santa Monica College student has been through it. The boring, grueling, "WHY CAN'T I CLICK FASTER?!" student orientation. Every new SMC student is required to complete this online orientation upon enrolling for his or her first semester. But as most of us remember, the old orientation didn't orient us much at all. We didn't learn about SMC as much as we learned to skim long paragraphs, guess at simple questions and click to the next page at lightning speed.

But students enrolling this summer are in luck: a new and improved online orientation is set to premiere before the end of spring semester.

"We're making it more student friendly, interactive and inviting for students so they will want to stay involved in the orientation process from beginning to end," said Delores Raveling, SMC professor and counselor.

The new orientation will feature more visually stimulating features such as "checks on learning." Upon finishing a section and answering questions, new students will be greeted by a video of a fellow student either giving praise for answering questions correctly, or a friendly "Oops, not quite right. Try again."

Perhaps the most advantageous features to be added are the interactive ones, such as tools that help build time management schedules and education planning. When building time management schedules, students may click and drag into time slots various categories such as class time and study time and then print the schedule for future use.

"Ed planning is when students see their counselor and build their program for the semester," said Raveling. With the new online ed planning feature, students will be able to build semester schedules up to four semesters at a time, print them out and bring them into their counselor for confirmation, having already started the legwork.

The new orientation will also feature an animated counselor, equipped with knowledge a real life counselor would provide for new students. Said virtual counselor will provide new students with information on the IGETC, University of California versus California Sate University transfer requirements, and assessment testing information.

This is the online orientation's third revision since it was adopted in fall of 2003. Before online orientation, SMC held in-person orientations that would last two days and were similar to enrollment in a high school setting.

"In the fall, we would have about 8,000 students [enroll on campus]," says Raveling. "In a year we would have oriented over 10,000 students. With the online orientation that number has actually doubled."

The orientation is part of SMC's new online presence, the Corsair Connect. This student portal currently encompasses new Google e-mail accounts as well as the oldies but goodies such as the student self service system. Eventually the Corsair Connect will include all online resources for students.

"With the new Google e-mail system they'll eventually start e-mailing announcements," said Jose Cue, counselor and member of the new student orientation committee. "Like this Friday is going to be the last day to drop classes…those kinds of things that usually get students into trouble, like ‘I wish I could have known so I would have dropped my class on time and not gotten a W.' It's one huge leap forward in establishing better communication with students."

When familiarizing themselves to the new orientation, incoming students will now have the option to pause and return to their work a few hours later to complete it. One new feature trigger-happy freshman may not enjoy is a time minimum that doesn't allow students to just instantly flip to the next page.

"We hope that they're not looking at it like it's something they have to rush through, but because it's so rich with information," said Raveling. "We want them to get the full benefit of orientation."

News, LocalsnoadminComment