Mapping the terrain for first year students

Mazes have a certain allure to them, and they can be incredibly fun. For students in their first year, making their way through university is often akin to making their way through a maze.  However, it’s not as much fun because they are also juggling 5 balls, competing with 600+ other students, and trying to make friends at the same time.

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 1.02.11 pmThe Faculty of Business and Economics (FBE) thought that a figurative map may be really helpful for first year students at this point. A map of the maze and tips on how to get around, so it would keep the experience novel, but not overly challenging. And so, the iLearn unit FBE101 was launched.

FBE101 was created in recognition of the fact that starting university can be overwhelming. FBE accepts over 2,000 students every Session. It would be a lost opportunity to not engage them, build a community, and help them with their transition into university. The FBE101 iLearn unit is open to all students (through self enrolment), and all first year students (either in first or second Sessions) are automatically enrolled.

FBE101 prepares students for their life at university and provides them tips and tricks on how to ace it. Designed to be flexible, the key components of the FBE101 iLearn unit include:

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 4.53.57 pmA day in the life: A set of student videos providing first year students with practical tips and tricks on completing assignments, preparing for exams, and getting more involved at university.

iLearn tutorial: An online guide to the basics of iLearn. In five quick sections, designed with a do-and-learn philosophy, it guides students through everything they need to know to get started with iLearn in their first few weeks.

Referencing guide: Another old favourite of the students, this online guide walks them through what referencing means, tips on how to reference, and where they can go for more help.

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 4.53.11 pmTransitioning to university: Interactive resources on developing skills required at university. These currently include being an independent learner, academic writing, presentation skills, and making the most of contact hours. Serving as an interactive repository, these resources add broader context and link back to the Library, Learning Skills, and other open source activities.

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 1.16.19 pmFBE101 was launched in Session 2, 2015. Since then it has seen regular traffic to its iLearn page.  Cumulative non-unique visits to the unit have been in excess of 1,000 since its launch. At last count, in Week 6, it crossed over 1,500 visits and iLearn data shows that it continues to be accessed as we speak. Data from a Qualtrics survey was also collected, and based on these two data sources, ‘A day in the life’ was the most popular resource among students (i.e. clicked most often), while the iLearn tutorial was most helpful.

But this is not the end of the road! There are several enhancements in the works – from tracking individual resources to expansion into second and third years – this is one map that will not lead you to a dead end!

Drop by and say hello to us at the poster session during Learning and Teaching Week on Thursday 17 September.