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American Higher Education in Crises book cover

Join keynote speaker Goldie Blumenstyk for a book signing.

Books are available for pre-purchase for $16.95 (+tax). 
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Conference Program now posted! This year's line-up includes:


OLC Excellence and Effective Practice Award Recipients Announced


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Join Keynoters Goldie Blumenstyck (Chronicle of Higher Education) and Phil Hill and Michael Feldstein (MindWires Consulting)

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22st Annual OLC International Conference
November 16-18, 2016 | Orlando, Florida | Walt Disney World Swan/Dolphin Resort

OLC Innovate 2016 - Innovations in Blended and Online Learning
April 20-22, 2016 | New Orleans, LA | Sheraton New Orleans Hotel

Appealing to the Masses: Understanding the Needs and Concerns of Diverse Socioeconomic Students in Online Classes

Michelle Bartlett (North Carolina State University, USA)
Jennifer Pena (North Carolina State University, USA)
Erica Ross (North Carolina State University, USA)
Session Information
October 15, 2015 - 1:30pm
Learning Effectiveness
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Institutional Level: 
Community Colleges
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Northern Hemisphere A4
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Concurrent Session 7

Learn about needs and concerns of students from high school to retirement age, and how to bridge the experience and age gap in online classes.

Extended Abstract

Traditional classrooms are making way for hybrid and online formats which reach many more students than ever before. Embracing new technologies for course delivery helps solve problems of limited campus and classroom space, dwindling budgets, and the ever present need for increasing student enrollment.
One of the biggest challenges in creating and facilitating such classes is ensuring students feel engaged and connected to the material, each other, and the instructor. This is complicated by the diverse ages, experiences, and life stages of the students in today's classes.
On one end of the spectrum are members of Generation Z and Millenials, who are typically extremely comfortable with computers but may be easily bored. Adult students above traditional college age have varied needs and concerns, often including balancing school with work and family commitments. Their educational backgrounds and experiences run the gamut from dropping out of high school to earning advanced degrees, from using computers on a daily basis to having never sent an e-mail or typing a document.
This session will provide answers about who these students are, including their needs, challenges, and skills, in order to find ways to deliver useful and effective online classroom experiences.
An emphasis will be placed upon building community and respect in an online setting, among students who may initially seem to have little in common with one another. Encouraging communication and team building will be examined, as these are key skills for success in business and industry, as well as essential tools for effective online learning.
Information presented will be based on research in learning theory and the real-world experiences of the presenters who have designed, conducted, and participated as students in online classes.
A second proposal is being submitted for an additional information session about taking knowledge about different learners and sorting through the nuts and bolts of planning and implementing an effective online class for them.

Attendees will have an understanding of the varied needs of learners in online settings. They will learn how to find common ground among seemingly diverse students, how to build communities among them, and create supportive and constructive environments for online learning. Attendees will have opportunities to ask questions and begin the process of planning their own courses around the ideas gained from this session. They will leave the session feeling more confident about the students they are likely to encounter in online classes and better equipped to prepare for them and provide a welcoming online environment in which they can learn.

Presenters will utilize visual aids to demonstrate the various types of learners, through PowerPoint. Participants will be encouraged to comment, question, and share during this portion of the session. Small groups will be utilized for brainstorming initial strategies to work with diverse student groups and report ideas back to the larger group.
A website will be created, containing materials discussed, as well as contributions and questions from attendees. It is often the case that a large amount of information is discussed in such short sessions and those in attendance would like a way to learn more and interact with the presenters and fellow attendees. This website will provide a vehicle for this continued learning and sharing.