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22st Annual OLC International Conference
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Developing a Self-Paced Online Technology Course That Supports Adult Learners

#Twitter: 
#olc30319
Presenter(s)
Richard Brungard (Penn State World Campus, USA)
Session Information
October 14, 2015 - 11:45am
Track: 
Student Services and Learner Support
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Institutional Level: 
Multiple Levels
Audience Level: 
Novice
Session Type: 
Information Session
Location: 
Asia 3
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Session: 
Concurrent Session 1
Abstract

Penn State developed a noncredit, self-paced course to teach adult learners university specific technologies, relieving new student stress on technology and better ensuring their success.

Extended Abstract

The twenty-first century has seen the wholesale introduction of a wide variety of digital technologies in higher education (Jelfs & Richardson, 2013). Institutions routinely use learning management systems and web-based application to deliver both the curriculum and student support (Brown, et al, 2010; Hawkins & Rudy, 2008). Although online instruction has many potential benefits, researchers have noted that technical difficulties and attrition are drawbacks to the increased use of this medium (Webster & Hackley, 1997, Welsh, Wanberg, Brown, & Simmering, 2003). While we consider traditional-aged students to be digital natives, research is showing that assumption to be a misnomer. Older students are more likely than younger student to adopt deep and strategic approaches to studying and less likely to adopt a surface approach to studying. Regardless of their ages, students who had more positive attitudes to technology were more likely to adopt deep and strategic approaches to studying and were less likely to adopt a surface approach to studying (Jelfs & Richardson, 2013). However, research has found that technological issues can have a negative effect on important learning outcomes for adult learners (Cavanaugh, Milkovich, & Tang, 2000; Webster & Hackley, 1997). Specifically, technical difficulties increase learners' frustration (North, Strain, & Abbott, 2000) and have a negative effect on their satisfaction with the instructional experience (Wentling, Park, & Pieper, 2007) This may explain why attrition rates are often higher in online than traditional classroom instruction (Welsh, et al., 2003).

In any higher education institution, technologies are required for learners to use that are specific to the institution, such as e-mail, a learning management system, and student portal. These systems are a necessary component to online learning and an integral part of student success. Research has recommended that organizations provide students with computer and Internet skills courses to assist them in navigating online learning environments and to facilitate technology acceptance (Marler, Liang, & Dulebohn, 2006; Sitzmann, Ely, & Wisher, 2008). Therefore, Penn State World Campus has developing a self-paced, online course for newly accepted students called, "Online Tech Camp." The purpose of this course is to lessen the stress on adult learners who are new to the online environment by introducing them to the Penn State specific technologies they will need to use, making it possible for students to focus their attentions on the syllabus and beginning course lessons, rather than how to use the technology to begin the course. Research shows that pre-training motivation increases learning, reduces attrition, and buffers students from the negative effects of technical difficulties on attrition (Sitzmann, Ely, Bell, & Bauer, 2010). Therefore, Online Tech Camp was developed to increase student's motivation to learn by giving them the technology tools they need to succeed at Penn State.

Attendees at this session will learn, 1) why Penn State World Campus developed Online Tech Camp and how it aids adult, online learners, and the research that supported our decision; 2) the components of Online Tech Camp and how we developed the course; and 3) what lessons we have learned from our first two offerings and what changes we will make for future courses. By the time of this presentation we will have information from evaluations of our first two Online Tech Camps. Presentation participants will discuss how Online Tech Camp may be modified to meet the needs of adult, online learners entering their institutions.

Lead Presenter

Richard is a Program Manager (PM) for Penn State World Campus. As a PM he works with academic partners from around the university to assist them in developing and maintaining World Campus programs. He has been with World Campus since 2007; previous to the PM position he was the Academic Support Resource Coordinator where he developed online, academic support resources for online students such as a new student orientation and a noncredit transitions course for students considering college online. Richard started at World Campus as the Advising Program Coordinator, training, supervising and supporting the World Campus Advising Team while maintaining a roster of students.