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Online Student Readiness Tutorials, California Community Colleges Online Education InitiativeA new series of online learner readiness tutorials is being readily embraced by community colleges, as momentum continues to build around the effort to better prepare California’s students for the realities of online learning.


The Online Student Readiness Tutorials, released in early August by the California Community Colleges (CCC) Online Education Initiative (OEI), is a comprehensive set of interactive, multimedia tutorials that address the challenges encountered by new and experienced online learners, and provide resources and strategies to help them be successful in an online course.

The tutorials are available free to all 113 community colleges.

Within a few days of release, several colleges reported they had added the tutorials to their online student resources for the fall term, and were encouraging faculty to incorporate them in instructional materials as well, said Bonnie Peters, Chief Student Services Officer for the OEI.

“All students at these colleges will have access to the tutorials, which is what we want,” Peters said. “Our hope is that this set of tools will not only prepare students for what to expect in an online course, but that they will use it as a companion as they go along, something they can keep going back to for tips and strategies.”

Immediate Response Positive

Following release of the tutorials, the OEI asked that colleges choosing to adopt the modules report back about how they will make them available to students. The following colleges responded in the first day:

Butte College

  • Sent a link in an email to 200 students identified as first-time online learners.
  • Link to tutorials is on public Distance Learning web page.

Columbia College

  • Posting link to tutorials on online learning web page under Student Resources.
  • All faculty will get an announcement and the resource will be shared at the Adjunct Faculty Inservice.

Foothill College

  • Added a link on the student Get Started webpage.
  • Will suggest to all online faculty that they include a link to the tutorials in their “welcome” messages to students.

Shasta College

  • Added link to online learning page.
  • Sent URL to all students enrolled in online or hybrid classes.
  • Included link in the course shell for campuswide tutoring implementation.

Ventura College

  • Link to tutorials is in a student information course that is required for all students.
  • Created a Student Resource Page which includes links to the tutorials; instructors can link to tutorials as needed.
  • During new online faculty training, instructors will be encouraged to incorporate links to multimedia tutorials as they build their courses.

Beyond this list of initial responses, Peters said she has heard from several other colleges that are interested in incorporating the tutorials in their student resources, and is optimistic that the list will continue to grow.

Preparing Students For Online Success

Anita Crawley, Student Support Services Director for the OEI, was part of the OEI launch team that initiated development of the student readiness tools. From the outset, she said the idea was that, in order to support the OEI’s mission of increasing college completions, quality student support services must go hand-in-hand with outstanding online courses.

“From the student services perspective, there was a readiness to move the needle for online student success,” Crawley said. That’s a big change from the early days of virtual learning, before it was understood that online students had unique needs, she noted.

“The OEI understood that an important way to improve the success of online students is to prepare them for what it’s like to be an online student, and then support them throughout,” she said.

Resources For All Online Learners

The first six tutorials in the series focus on skill building for students new to online learning, while the remaining tutorials identify resources and strategies to assist all online students with timely course and degree completion. A set of interactive tools accompanies the tutorials, designed to help students with time management, technical readiness and more.

Crawley said the tutorials were authored by Lisa Storm, a faculty member at Hartnell College, and developed in collaboration with Agile Research and Technology Inc. The tutorials were piloted during the Spring 2015 term, and feedback from students and faculty informed the current versions.

The OEI is encouraging colleges to provide feedback on the new Online Student Readiness Tutorials, including when they’ve adopted them and how they are using them. A feedback repository will be set up soon, and the information will be used to continually improve the tools, Peters said.

Crista Souza is a TechEDge Contributing Editor