As one of the growing forces in the education sector, distance learning has taken an important position within the industry over the last few years, driving many universities to invest in platforms to deliver their courses online. One of the reasons for this increasing popularity is the growing demand of students looking for non-traditional tools that can give them the full experience, without having to sacrifice their full-time job.
“Even though the education market has changed and distance learning has become increasingly popular, most institutions find themselves unprepared to face this worldwide phenomenon and lack the expertise to create a platform that makes online courses effective”, says Vitaly Klopot, Managing Director of the award-winning e-learning provider, InterActive , which partners with institutions such as the London School of Business and Finance (LSBF) and Finance Business Training (FBT) to offer a wide range of programs.
Aside from providing innovative, industry-focused programs delivered by highly qualified professionals and academics, there are five main areas to consider when creating an online course.
1. Interaction and Support
Interactivity is a vital element in the education process. Students who are critical of online courses often use this as the main reason not to choose distance learning.
A good online course should provide students with a consistent level of interaction that encourages academic learning and creates a community atmosphere. This can be delivered through live streaming sessions, forums and virtual classrooms with lecturers.
It is also important to make sure that lecturers have experience with online teaching to ensure that they are able to set the emotional and intellectual tone to provide students with dynamic online classes.
2. Peer to Peer Interaction
Another essential feature taken in consideration by students is peer to peer interaction. It is important that the online platform offers students the opportunity to find collaboration and support from people who are having the same experience as them.
Numerous studies have pointed out the importance of learning as a social activity. By sharing knowledge among each other, students build up better mental connections regarding their course material and come up with their own conclusions and ideas. The construction of an open and organised online community is one of the key elements for high-quality online education.
This can be delivered through forums for students to initiate conversations, discussions led by the lecturers, the possibility of creating online study groups, and the integration of group work into the course in order to promote these interactions.
One of the main features of InterActive courses is peer review and discussions. Students are encouraged to assess each other and build long lasting relationships which will benefit their professional networks during and after completing their courses.
3. Extra Tools and Support
One of the main advantages of distance learning is the possibility of sharing multimedia content to enhance the learning experience. The best online course is the one who will offer an appropriate balance of written, visual and audio tools and assignments.
For example, the InterActive platform delivers studio-quality, HD video lectures s to cover the key points of the syllabus of all courses. These lectures are complemented with a collection of recorded and live-streamed videos directly from the classroom, allowing students to get most out of their experience.
Students also have the option of using the self-assessment tools available on the platform, which enables them to check their knowledge, identify their weaknesses and strengths and follow their progress throughout the course of their study.
In addition, all students receive a full package of written course material including lecture notes, textbooks, revision kits and revision cards. Additionally, InterActive students also gain full access to partner online libraries.
4. Technology and Accessibility
Alongside academic quality, the pillars for the success of any e-learning venture are innovation and technology. With ever-evolving technology, online education becomes more accessible and comprehensive. The platform in which your online course will be delivered should create and provide dynamic, targeted interactions with a comprehensive approach. It should be flexible enough to be accessible from anywhere in the world and on any device (including tablets and mobile phones). This will enable students to have a truly flexible study experience.
5. Extra resources and services
In the e-learning market, any extra tool can become an asset that will enhance the quality of your programme. Alongside a powerful base, it’s important to invest in details and tool that will give students the full experience.
InterActive’s newly developed iHubs are a good example of this. These local learning centres are created to provide the perfect solution for students who require the convenient flexibility of online study but need the motivation that comes with face-to-face academic support. This co-working space also functions as meeting point for likeminded students to build their professional networks through events, workshops and community meet-ups.
“For the provider, another important factor to take in consideration is how easy it is to upload and update the content in the platform. Online courses should be constantly updated with the newest and most relevant syllabus in the key industries, and institutions cannot afford to let this process to be slowed down by technology limitations”, concludes Mr Klopot.