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WCET Survey: 6 Things Students Want to Know Before Enrolling in Digital Courses

Students who want to enroll in digital courses are finding that not enough information is provided ahead of time in order for them to be successful, a 2022 WCET (WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies) partnership survey found. The survey and report, titled "Helping Students Prepare for Digital Learning: Providing Information at the Time of Enrollment," was a collaboration between WCET, the Canadian Digital Learning Research Association (CDLRA), Bay View Area Analytics, and the Ohio State University's Office of Technology and Digital Innovation.

The group interviewed an online focus group of six students at six different community colleges and universities in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, North Carolina, and Wyoming. Four of the students took courses partially online and two fully online, variously enrolled in associate, baccalaureate, and master's degree programs. Ages and racial identities also varied.

Key takeaways from the survey revealed six major concerns:

  1. Students want to know the technology required for the course before enrolling, such as system requirements.
  2. Students want more information about digital courses to be published in course catalogs, about not only system requirements, but engagement expectations and any additional costs.
  3. Students want access to course syllabi before enrolling.
  4. Students want to know what services are available to help them be successful, such as technical support, tutoring, and financial aid.
  5. Students want to know what digital course instructors expect of them before enrolling.
  6. Students want instructor expectations for student engagement for to be more consistent for various digital courses.

Go to WCET's full report page to read the survey and findings.

Key to understanding these issues is getting clear on digital definitions, WCET maintains, and it has done significant research in this area for several years. To download and/or read articles on this subject, visit the Digital Learning Definitions page at

WCET was founded by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) to meet a growing need to integrate distance learning and educational technology into the academic services of higher education institutions in the western region. It has since come to serve members across the United States and Canada. For more information, visit its About page.

About the Author

Kate Lucariello is a former newspaper editor, EAST Lab high school teacher and college English teacher.

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