The number of distance learning options for students continues to grow, as online universities and state university systems race to enter the online learning education marketplace.
However, it is important for schools to consider those online learning management techniques necessary to create positive, productive environments. This article presents some helpful tips.
Online Learning Education – Course Structures
If there are things distance learners want more than anything else, it’s scheduling flexibility. It’s for this reason that programs need to provide asynchronous course offerings which enable students to log in and take classes whenever they choose.
However, to improve student learning and enhance the online learning environment, it’s essential that asynchronous courses attempt to match the level of interactivity that live courses offer. Below are some of the ways to improve the interactivity of asynchronous courses:
- Provide archived, streaming lectures which were recorded live
- Provide dynamic videos and graphical interfaces as learning materials
- Create dynamic discussion forums which allow students and professors to communicate
While the highest level of interactivity can be achieved with synchronous (live) courses which use web-conferencing technologies and chat applications, programs which demand that students take solely synchronous courses will find that busy, working students can suffer quickly from learning fatigue in such schedules (which leads, of course, to enrollment fatigue).
While synchronous courses can enhance the learning experience, they should be included as supplemental options, and not as the only way to deliver online courses.
Online Learning Education – Instructor Availability
The online learning management of a program should place a high priority on making sure instructors and professors are available to their online students. This means two things:
- Faculty schedules must be coordinated to allow instructors the time and energy needed to keep up with personalized discussions and queries from online students;
- Online institutions must place strict rules on the maximum amount of time an instructor can go without responding to a student’s request.
Many universities provide online office hours, allowing students to contact professors via chat, email, or telephone. Such a strategy can enhance the overall online learning environment and promote student success.
Online Learning Education – Accreditation
Online learning has unfairly received a popular reputation for being less rigorous or valuable (due to unregulated diploma mills). In truth, according to the U.S. Department of Education, online students from accredited, quality schools often do better on learning outcomes than on-campus students.
To promote the quality of a program and the value of the degrees being offered, online programs should seek accreditation from both professional accrediting organizations in appropriate fields as well as from national accrediting organizations.
Online Learning Education – Academic Support
The online learning management team of an educational system should place a priority on student support services, such as academic advising, mentoring, tutorial services, financial aid help, and technical support.
While distance learners crave the flexibility online degree programs offer, they also can feel alone at times, particularly during moments when educational struggles arise. To enhance the overall online learning environment for students, and to obviously increase their learning potential, online schools should implement strong student support services that match what on-campus institutions offer.
Benefits of Good Online Learning Management
By providing students with valuable degrees, flexible schedules, available instructors, and strong student support services, online colleges and universities can produce online learning environments which create positive communities and provide for quality student learning opportunities.