More resources, more convenience, and more power to tailor their own transition to university: new-to-UBCO students are getting a whole lot more from their orientation experience, thanks to an innovative new online program at UBC’s Okanagan campus.
In early 2018, a project team in the Office of the Associate Vice-President, Students set out to streamline and improve the orientation and transition experience for new students. The result: UBC 101, a non-credit course offered through Canvas that provides incoming students with the knowledge and resources to support a successful transition to UBC Okanagan. The project is an example of UBC’s efforts to create opportunities for students to feel more engaged and better supported during their time at UBC, as represented by Strategy 15 (Student Experience) in the strategic plan.
The online orientation course was launched as a pilot in 2018; it is available to all new students once they receive their Campus-Wide Login (CWL), and offers 24/7 on-demand access to information and resources essential for the transition to university.
Structured into five modules, UBC 101 primarily serves to address four learning goals: helping students take care of essentials prior to the start of class; introducing them to the history, traditions and culture of UBC Okanagan; introducing them to the academic transition to university; and introducing them to on-campus support services.
The online format means that students can complete the course in their own time and at their convenience, providing unprecedented control over the pace and depth of their orientation experience while encouraging deeper self-directed exploration into topics of interest.
UBC 101 is intended to be completed prior to arrival on campus but does not replace any existing orientation programming. Instead, UBC 101 condenses many individual messages into a centralized, streamlined, and student-friendly format.
“By providing an online platform for information delivery, the course lets us focus our traditional in-person orientations like Jump Start and Create on other critical areas of transition, like building social connections and campus affinity,” says Ian Cull, Associate Vice-President, Students at UBC Okanagan.
Hosting the course on Canvas allows new students to revisit UBC 101 content throughout their first term on a familiar, convenient platform.
In its pilot year, UBC 101 saw 30 per cent of incoming new students complete the course before September. In 2019, that number is on track to increase to 35 per cent, with a goal of reaching 60 per cent completion within five years.
The program has already seen early indicators of success. When surveyed, new students who had completed UBC 101 were more likely than others to report a greater familiarity with resources on campus, a stronger understanding of UBC’s expectations of conduct, and were more confident in their knowledge of what to expect in the first term.
“When you’re new to campus, it can be hard to remember everything you learn at orientation and in the first weeks of class. The great thing about UBC 101 is that it has everything together in one place so you can go back and review something if you have questions later,” says Mykela White, an upper-year student who had the opportunity to test the course before it was rolled out to new students.
“I was surprised at how much I learned in UBC 101, even in my fourth year. It’s definitely a resource I would have loved to have when I was a first-year student.”
The non-credit course is open and accessible to all members of the campus community, supporting a shared understanding of what new students should know and be able to do prior to the start of classes. Because anyone with a CWL can enrol and review the course content, campus partners can easily review the foundational information students are provided when they arrive on campus.
The curriculum opens the door for future collaboration — with faculties and other campus partners — to grow and build upon the foundation of UBC 101.
Ian adds, “We look forward to exploring ways to engage with Faculties and other valued campus partners in growing UBC 101, and providing all new-to-UBC Okanagan students with an exceptional orientation experience.”
Staff and students can self-enrol in UBC 101 at students.ok.ubc.ca/orientations.