• MAY 2018

There’s a revolution going on in distance learning

More and more universities are offering full degree courses online, catering to a growing crop of students who are learning almost entirely by distance education.

According to the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), online education is growing at a stunning rate, with kindergarten through twelfth-grade online programs expected to rise an additional 30 percent per year.

At the university level, the growth rate is about 10 percent per year, and many institutions consider online courses essential to their success.

The key to making such programs successful is an effective learning management platform. Adaptability is the key: CIOs need to provide their educators with many essential functions, including content delivery, community building, document sharing, messaging, audio-visual capabilities, user and data security, and more.

Video is vital

While keeping content accessible can be a challenge, particularly for students in remote areas, the flexibility, low cost, and improved accessibility of distance learning platforms appeal to teachers, students, and schools alike. Video is a mission-critical feature for a distance learning platform, as it:

• Improves access to education by increasing the number of students lecturers can teach in each course
• Removes the need for duplicate sessions
• Can be implemented at low cost

Moreover, the more popular videoconferencing tools are widely available and familiar to anyone who uses social networking sites.

Many legacy systems are still using text-heavy learning materials, which risks failing reach students for whom distance learning is the sole, or primary, source of education and instruction.

Today’s distance learners will not make the time to peruse text-heavy material and should be offered engaging digital learning content. As such, CIOs must be prepared to meet the growing demand for a variety of media in distance learning.

Four steps to transform distance learning into digital learning

To build an effective digital learning platform, ensure that you are enabling your educators to:

1. Transform theoretical examples into interactive case studies:

Put the students at the centre of the scenario, allowing them to make decisions or apply concepts as they would in the real world, rather than have the students compare their answer to a model answer provided.

2. Add visual storytelling to modules:

Expand on examples used in course materials and convert them to a more visual format.

3. Create instructive multimedia:

Go beyond a text narrative and deliver multimedia content that shows students in detail how to apply relevant concepts, ideas, or formulas.

4. Enable technology for assessment:

Assessing students learning remotely can be a greater challenge than assessing those nearby. Developing portals for interactive exam practice questions will give teachers an excellent tool for diagnosing where work is needed.

Distance education promises much, especially to students in remote areas, existing time commitments or restricted mobility. Everyone should have the opportunity to get a good education – and with these tools, everyone can.

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