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Community College Adopts SmarterMeasure To Gauge Online Readiness

Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, MD has introduced a Web program to allow students to check their readiness for taking online classes. The use of SmarterMeasure from SmarterServices is also intended to help the college improve its student success and retention efforts in the distance program. The college, which has about 23,000 students, said that 31 percent of its students took at least one online course in the fall 2009 semester, a 26 percent increase over the same semester in the previous year.

The community college's virtual campus includes guidance for first-time e-learners. As part of this "first-semester experience" the college provides online access to SmarterMeasure. Although not all class instructors require students to take the online assessment, some do.

The program, formerly named READI, is a customizable set of questions that explore facets such as personal attributes and learning style, technical knowledge, ability to read and retain information, and typing skills. The student receives results that lay out areas for improvement and areas of strength, learning style, and technical competency.

"We use an abbreviated version of the SmarterMeasure assessment, since it is not required," said Patty McCarthy-O'Neill, coordinator of distance learning. "Students have access to the technical competency, technical knowledge, and personal attribute components. Recently, we have added the learning styles component as a separate assessment ... targeted to first-time online students to help them discover strategies to learn course content more easily based on their preferred learning styles."

The application is also in use by the University of Washington in its Seattle nursing program; the University System of Georgia Board of Regents, which offers online courses from 35 colleges and universities through Georgia OnMyLine; and Ivy Tech Community College in Indianapolis, IN.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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