By John Usher, Associate Dean
Driving into work this morning I saw all the students moving their stuff into the dorms. Classes start in a few days. I still remember my first day at Speed School. I would use the word exciterrified to describe it. I had no idea what to expect. I walked into my Chem class in the big auditorium in Ernst Hall and looked around and saw about 100 guys and 5 girls. That ratio was completely unexpected, and after having spent 4 years at Trinity High School, I started to seriously question my engineering career choice. Then, the professor (who shall remain nameless) walked in and his first words were “Look to your left and look to your right, one of these people will be gone in 3 weeks.” Wow…nice welcome. Great to be here, I thought. Obviously I made it through ok, but still it was eye-opening.
Boy how times have changed. That old “weed them out” mentality is long since gone. Speed School is ALL about retaining students and helping them earn an engineering degree. We have a great set of dedicated academic advisors that work with their assigned students through their entire career here at Speed. We have supplemental Calculus instruction sections, student help sessions, tutors, a Living/Learning Community, tablet PC initiative, a new Director for Student Success (Heidi Neal), UofL Reach, a Writing Center, and much more.
As I look back now, I realize how far we have come and how much better it is be a Speed student these now. Maybe that’s why our enrollment numbers are through the roof as more and more young people are deciding that engineering can lead them to a great lifetime career.
Best of luck to the incoming class!
A Blackboard organization named Speed Online has been launched to help incoming online graduate students prepare for personal, academic and career success. With new students enrolling in five fully online graduate degree and certificate programs offered by three academic departments, the new organization will simplify and expedite the orientation and enrollment process for online graduate students.
Shortly after applicants are offered admission, they are added to the Speed Online organization and emailed instructions for logging in to Blackboard. Outlined below, the main menu not only guides them through the orientation process, but also provides 24/7 access to the information, resources and services they may need throughout their program.
- Welcome: Orientation overview and welcome message from Dean Pinto.
- New Students Start Here: Initial action required of newly admitted students, including account setup, course registration, bill payment and financial aid.
- Speed Online 101: General information about technology, textbooks, advising, academic integrity, policies and student expectations.
- UofL Resources: Details about helpful on-campus and online resources students are most likely to need.
- Announcements: Occasional messages posted for all Speed Online students.
- Discussion Board: Community forum for questions, comments and responses of general interest to all students in any of our online programs or courses.
- Faculty & Staff: Names and contact information for online program directors and school administrators.
- Calendar: Important academic dates and deadlines for the university, school and online programs.
Engineering Management, Computer Science and Data Mining students enrolling for the first time in Fall 2014 are the first ones to use the Speed Online orientation process. To give new students more hands-on experience with Blackboard tools used in online classes and to help them feel more connected to the Speed School community, we are planning two additional modules for those enrolling in Spring 2015.
- Pre-Term Assignments: Confirm technology setup, participate in Blackboard Collaborate meeting, develop online learning plan, introduce self to faculty and students using a blog, expand LinkedIn professional network and complete pre-enrollment quiz.
- Orientation Programs: Required synchronous or asynchronous virtual orientation session for Speed Online students, as well as optional on-campus orientation at the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies (SIGS) and reception at the Speed School.
The new Speed Online organization has three main benefits. First, it will ensure that all incoming online students have timely access to high quality information that is relevant, accurate and complete. Second, it will help improve enrollment, retention and graduation rates for online programs and increase the engagement of online students and alumni in the Speed School community. Finally, it will reduce the number of times that academic departments, program directors and online instructors have to answer frequently asked questions about policies, procedures, resources and technology. Please contact Todd Reale, Director of Online and External Programs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 502-852-5012 if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.