Learners use it to find their way around their new college or university and to find their way around new social groups. Whether learners are on campus or not, induction programmes need to bind them together and build foundations for user groups that can become communities and friendships.
Make it a priority to explore how to use digital to broadcast to learners who may not be experienced in accessing learning content remotely.
Education organisations must cater for all learners. Designing delivery for remote learners has its challenges.
At Jisc, we’ve always advised our members to look at different methods and styles to encourage engagement and enhance learning and, in the COVID era, this has become an urgent issue.
Using digital to deliver a programme can open many new doors that you perhaps didn’t consider in previous induction programmes. Whether that’s group activities like escape rooms, or session-polling activities, all learners must be able to access and interact with the exercise.
If we imagine new students arriving for induction on campus, we would want the buildings, rooms and people to be welcoming and create an inclusive experience. Now, more than ever, the digital estate is as much of the organisation as the physical estate and the digital experience is not a bolt-on or something that simply supplements life as a learner there. It’s important to give care and attention to designing an induction experience that will bring all of your learners together.
Consider what devices or connections learners may be using to access the induction programme. Someone may feel isolated from the group if their device can’t access the content or if they run out of data because a programme video uses a lot of bandwidth. Videos or other forms of content that use up a lot of data should be made available in low data versions. A programme of fun, collaborative activities shouldn’t mean that some students run out of data on the first day.
Connecting learners/students with their peers and learning
Helping learners connect with your organisation is a key part of induction. This means connecting with learning and people, as well as services and buildings.
Making sure your learners feel they can learn, communicate and build social groups, whether on campus or from remote connections, is a significant challenge. Activities involving collaborations to form social groups are nothing new to induction programmes, and adding them to an online space could be engaging and rewarding for learners who may be feeling isolated or nervous about meeting new people.
Where you have a mix of learners, with some on campus and some joining remotely, this doesn’t mean a doubling of effort for those who deliver the induction.
Asking learners who are on campus to join the ones online may be a better solution than asking online learners to ‘tag along’ to a session being run in a classroom or lecture space. Prioritising planning and delivery for the medium that both sets of learners can access allows you to work more effectively.
When planning activities, note that simply creating spaces for community may not be enough to encourage people to participate. Give the activity a purpose or create an event around which people can ‘congregate’.
Recent discussions with members suggested activities such as:
- Zombie apocalypse: “Reinforcing our induction message, the goal was to create a game that introduced students to the resources, support and space available to them at the library” – University of Sussex Library, Multimedia Information and Technology Group Blog
- Escape-room examples:
- Escape rooms for learning – University of Huddersfield, Information Literacy Group website
- Open the box – University of Northampton – Kate Coulson and Paul Rice
- A soap opera idea
“We plan to use our ‘management soap opera’ method where they have to solve realistic problems as a group. We use Moodle for this over the term but will use Teams for this in a short form during induction so they get a flavour of our non-high school approach. Encouraging them to unlearn high school methods is crucial for preparing students for leadership”- member comment in discussion
“We’ve developed a virtual tour of the college to help students get a general feel of the building, this is particularly useful for additional learning support learners and their parents. We are looking to add links to resources/induction activities to make it more interactive for learners” - member comment in discussion
Some virtual tour examples:
- Not just virtual delivery
“We are also planning to get learners in for one day at the beginning for face-to-face then carry on remotely. Still working out the logistics”
- Encouraging current students to write their own guide/content
“At London Business School we've been working with current students to host meet and greets with new students – the people are as much the community as the buildings”
|Questions to ask||Member comments|
Ensure all contents of the programme are accessible and inclusive
How will your learners be accessing the content?
Will the content be accessible on all devices?
Will the content be available in different formats?
How will you get feedback from your learners?
"Putting a big emphasis on health and wellbeing aspects, showcasing our services and showing how accessible they are online”
“We're using our VLE to deliver content, and then using Teams meetings to facilitate community building”
What are the intended outcomes of group activities?
Can activities be delivered in collaboration with learners on-campus and those joining remotely
How are you going to evaluate success?
“Helping learners/students feel part of a community. Asking critical questions that get students to present themselves in a meaningful way”A cornucopia of ideas: food for thought for digital education – Dustin Hosseini – Digital Education Practices