How do you walk to an online classroom?
The walk to class has been a comforting on-campus ritual for new students in higher education for decades. In order to introduce newcomers to online learning, University of Phoenix offers a virtual “walk to class.” This optional service, which includes a financial aid assessment and help selecting a degree program, focuses on preparation for the unique aspects of the online learning environment. In addition, extra services help guide military students on their “walks,” says Sandra Rodriguez, senior director of enrollment for the University of Phoenix Military Division.
“Our military students have some unique needs as they make their transition,” explains Rodriguez, an enrollment advisor and administrator who was a soldier in the U.S. Army before getting her MBA degree in human resource management at University of Phoenix.
The walk to class for these students can include processing military financial aid benefits, such as the GI Bill and military tuition assistance, compiling transferable academic credits from past military training and helping select the right academic program. Many University advisors helping guide this virtual walk to class are military veterans, so they understand military students’ unique needs, Rodriguez says. These advisors have trained ears and share common experiences with their incoming students.
“Some military students come to us not knowing exactly what they want to do, other than obtain some kind of degree,” Rodriguez explains. Some want to get certifications to do civilian versions of their current military jobs; others are looking to switch gears entirely. Advisors conduct interviews to learn more about the students’ personal interests and past work experience.
After helping students select a program of study, advisors start the next phase of the walk to class: workshops, which can include how to write a paper, how to prevent plagiarism, and study skills.
“We log in together with the students online and show them the virtual classroom, how it works and all its various tools, including classroom chat folders and how to communicate online with instructors,” Rodriguez explains. The process lasts as long as it takes for the students to understand the various online tools.
Advisors also explain the many student support services the University offers, such as the Center for Writing Excellence, the Center for Mathematics Excellence and the Life Resource Center. These services are available to all students at no additional cost.