Student Online Learning Orientation (SOLO)
All students taking a Distance Learning course are encouraged to participate in SOLO prior to beginning their course(s), and SOLO completion is required by several DL programs.
SOLO is designed to prepare students with some of the challenges associated with distance learning.The orientation specifically addresses effective learning strategies for an online student and orients the student to the technologies used in an online course.
Research has shown that requiring students to complete training before participating in a fully online course improves retention in those courses (Bozarth, Chapman, & La Monica, 2004; Jones, 2013; Mensch, 2009). This requirement also frees faculty from having to individually provide orientations in each course, allowing more time for course content and learning activities.
The Distance Learning Committee (DLC) of the University of North Florida, charged to support the development of distance learning that meets the needs of our students in a manner that is consistent with the University’s mission, developed UNF’s 2012-2017 Strategic Plan for Distance Learning addresses overall goals as well as priorities relative to DL and operational guidelines for implementation and oversight. An action item under goal 12, “Student Support Services,” to “develop an orientation/success course for all online students to take prior to participation in a distance learning course.”
SOLO is self-paced and can be completed in less than five hours.
Based on feedback, SOLO has been updated and redesigned to support its purpose.
SOLO Course Objectives include:
- Troubleshooting technology issues
- Describing the characteristics of a successful online learner
- Constructing a personal planner
- Uploading assignments in a variety of formats
- Posting to a discussion forum
- Viewing announcements
- Locating resources for learning how to use Canvas
Students: Students access SOLO depending on when they first register for a DL course. Students receive notifications from Distance Learning Student Services with detailed instructions. Students can view My UNF Communications in myWings.
Self-enrollment in Canvas SOLO: Students will be notified to self-enroll in SOLO in Canvas at the time they register for their first distance learning course at UNF. Students will remain in Canvas SOLO until they un-enroll.
**To access SOLO at any time after you have joined the course, login to Canvas from myWings or http://canvas.unf.edu, and select the "Student Online Learning Orientation" in Courses (on the left menu).**
Note: Some faculty and programs require you to complete this orientation in order to remain in their DL courses. Look for an email or announcement in each of your DL courses to determine if this orientation is required by your instructor.
(See sidebar for information on specific programs requiring all majors to complete SOLO.)
Once the orientation is completed, the SOLO credential remains valid for five years and students will not have to repeat the orientation each time they register for a distance learning course.
Petition Process: Students may petition to be exempt from the SOLO requirement if there are significant personal circumstances which make this requirement unnecessary. More information is available on the SOLO Petition page.
Faculty: Faculty are able to view a SOLO status roster for each of their distance learning courses in Faculty Self-Service.
Faculty and Programs can choose to enforce completion of the orientation.
Students will receive email how to access SOLO, but the email does not contain information indicating whether the orientation is required for a particular class or program. That communication will come from the faculty.
For faculty and programs that want to enforce completion of the orientation, it is recommended that the requirement and due date be reflected in the course syllabus and communicated to students via email from the instructor prior to the beginning of the term.
Until the last day of Drop/Add, faculty can choose to enforce completion of the orientation by requesting an administrative drop for students who have not completed SOLO. The administrative drop process can be utilized at any time during Drop/Add. Faculty are encouraged to complete requests for administrative drops by noon of the last day of drop/add to allow for processing. Utilize the administrative drop procedures determined by the department/college.
Orientation Resources: Once completed, students have access to orientation resources used in SOLO.
Resources in the Canvas SOLO are available in the SOLO course as long as the student does not un-enroll from SOLO in Canvas. Additional Canvas resources are available on the Canvas Student Support webpage.
Bozarth, J., Chapman, D. D., & LaMonica, L. (2004). Preparing for distance learning: Designing an online student orientation course. Educational Technology & Society, 7 (1), 87-106.
Jones, K. (2013). Developing and implementing a mandatory online student orientation. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17(1), 43-45.
Mensch, S. (2009). Improving distance education through student online orientation classes. Presented at the Academic and Business Research Institute Conference, Orlando, FL.