TOP for Online Learners is an orientation program designed to provide undergraduate, degree-seeking students with campus location "web" a distance-friendly orientation that will equip them with the tools and information they need to be successful.
TOP for Online Learners recognizes that the needs of an online student are unlike those of an on-campus student, which means this orientation leaves out topics such as parking, and housing. It instead focuses on things such as how to do the following:
Look up their NetID and set their password
Set up a Toppermail email account
Use TopNet, including iCap, accepting financial aid awards, and locating advisor information
Use Blackboard, including posting to discussion boards, forums, keeping a journal, and more
Accessing library resources at a distance
Because TOP for Online Learners is set up in Blackboard, students get practical, hands-on experience. This experience starts with students being connected to WKU Online Learning (WKU Online & WKU On Demand) at the point of admission. This provides our office the opportunity to work with students directly, form lasting connections, and walk them through the ins and outs of succeeding at a distance!
All degree-seeking students with campus location "web," including:
Transfer students with campus location "web"
New WKU students with campus location "web"
Returning WKU students who have been readmitted, have less than 24 credit hours and have a campus location of "web"
Students with campus location "web" are not required to come to campus for orientation, however, if they wish to attend a face-to-face orientation, they may do so. They will simply need to email firstname.lastname@example.org about different orientation options.
Beyond the practical experience it provides online learners, housing TOP for Online Learners in Blackboard also does the following:
Allows students to connect with a student success coach early in the process, and form lasting ties with WKU staff members
Builds relationships early-on, increasing the likelihood of student success
Provides the opportunity for staff to monitor progress through the orientation, and reach out as needed
Allows staff to have a conversation with students at the point of entry about their selected major, including whether or not the major they selected is available online, as well as any major-specific admission requirements
Student with previous hours earned may have more online options available to them, so this early connection also allows our staff members to discuss additional options that fit their particular needs
Makes it possible for us to connect students with the appropriate advisor for their specific program
Most importantly, TOP for Online Learners equips the online student with the information they need in order to move forward with a basic understanding of University processes and requirements, including what's available online, BEFORE they connect with their advisor. We believe this approach will not only benefit the student, but also the assigned advisor.