The hurdles associated with online learning correlate with the teacher’s inability to build a personal relationship with their students and to monitor their productivity during class. Delivering the syllabus content is only the first step, and arguably not even the most crucial one. Connecting with students should be an instructor’s primary goal. Building trust and conveniently managing the virtual classroom for the user can be achieved by getting familiar with the available technological tools.
An instructor’s teaching presence and interactive personality is often the main determinant of their student’s productivity. There is no advancement in online learning that can take the place of giving a lecture in front of students. However, a study of online classrooms showed that the digital tools you use play a significant role in creating your virtual presence through emails, assignments, mode of instructions or announcements, and even the course structure. Various online tools and a few changes to your approach can help make virtual learning as engaging as possible.
1. Creative and Effective Approach
Each aspect of online teaching, from curriculum, theory, and practice, to administration and technology, should be formulated in a way that promotes productivity and the effectiveness of online learning. It is necessary to have a qualified teacher to create the course schedules and curriculum according to the student’s requirements. A flexible lesson plan can give students the comfort of studying at their own pace. This will allow them to individually focus on challenging topics rather than struggle on a single concept for hours.
State-of-the-art eLearning systems are available if you have the respective funds to develop them. A Learning Management System (LMS) can help synchronize the virtual learning process by bridging the communication gap between teachers and students. Clarity on the instructions given by the teacher is as crucial as clarity on what the teacher expects from the students. Be aware of the level of performance they need to aspire to, which will help students be more proactive. This can be achieved by writing out course objectives.
Having an organized approach can make the course easy to navigate and understand. Digital mediums such as emails, online documents, and discussion forums can assist with this. An instructional video on how to upload assignments or how to send in questions relating to the course in an open forum will give students clarity. All of these approaches will also go a long way in ensuring that the class understands one’s teaching presence.
Three Key Factors of Alternative Learning:
Engaging Learning Environment
Keeping the students involved during the lecture and encouraging participation through regular polls or activities engages their interest.
Increasing Knowledge Retention
Well-designed online courses can use multimedia tools to help impart information that stays with the students even after the lecture ends.
Communication, participation, and interest increase when the online platform is easy and convenient to navigate.
Part of boosting the effectiveness of online learning is to have a plan. Instructions, lesson plans, and assignments need to be planned carefully to help create a flow during the lecture. It is advised to have all the necessary files, documents, presentations organized, so that time and effort is not wasted during the class to locate or open them.
Every element of your online course, from the arrangement of content to the sequence of activities, must be meticulously crafted to engage learners and facilitate comprehension. A well-designed course isn’t just a repository of information; it’s a carefully orchestrated symphony of knowledge, delivered in a logical and engaging manner.
Instructional design encompasses the choice of media, the structure of assessments, and the alignment of course materials with specific learning outcomes. When executed with precision, it creates a harmonious learning experience, where students seamlessly progress through the material, making the most of their time and effort. In this context, a comprehensive Learning Management System (LMS) becomes an invaluable partner, helping you implement and refine your instructional design strategies, ultimately leading to more effective online learning experiences.
2. Utilize Multimedia Tools in Lectures
In the 21st century, networking is crucial in every sphere of life. In most cases, a simple and functional interface is preferred for eLearning to create ease for the students as well as the teacher. Embracing digital communication through emails, student chat rooms, social media channels, online forums, and more, is the key to increasing the effectiveness of online learning. Students can interact with classmates and raise doubts relevant to the course and assignments. The interpersonal connection helps them perform better and keeps them engaged in regular discussions concerning the coursework.
Incorporating digital videos into the eLearning process is a valuable skill that helps learners grasp concepts through a sensory experience. Particularly, complex subjects can be easily understood in the form of videography or infographics. Students have shown to retain more information through this medium as well. Videos are a resource that students can access at any time through any device, i.e., laptop, tablet, mobile phone, etc. This versatile approach can increase the effectiveness of multimedia learning tools in education.
There are various LMS facilities available on the internet, which allow you to present your course content dynamically. One example is DigitalChalk. Alternatively, virtual reality as an eLearning tool is also gaining popularity.
Here we will discuss both of these platforms:
This LMS has unique features to improve the effectiveness of an alternative learning system. They have a Chalkboard course element, which allows the teacher to present your video right next to your notes or slides. Audio voice-overs, video streaming, and live instructor-led sessions during slideshows can make eLearning more impactful. Additionally, their Checkpoints tool has pop-up questions during the lecture to test the student’s understanding.
A new AI platform called ‘Discussions’ promotes social learning by allowing users to interact and collaborate easily. Discussions can also be flagged for review or removal by the chosen moderator. Lastly, their Gamify tools allow you to create award certificates, custom badges, and leaderboards as rewards for knowledge-based games. Gamification in learning is useful to increase student engagement.
Virtual Reality (VR)
The human brain remembers most of the activity they are engaged in, in comparison to remembering little of what information they read. With the latest technology, virtual reality provides real-life simulations for students for their courses. This greatly increases how much information they can retain. It can be adapted to any subject, presently more focused on science and history courses. The content creation possibilities are endless. Virtual field trips can allow students to visualize and experience distant or inaccessible places. VR is very useful in special education, as it provides various mediums of communication that can impact their learning process.
Mobile Learning for Accessibility
Mobile learning is an integral component of Multimedia Tools in Lectures. Consider a scenario where a student is commuting to work on a train or taking a break between meetings. With their smartphone or tablet in hand, they can seamlessly access educational content, watch video lectures, or participate in discussions on a mobile app specifically designed for the course. This flexibility allows students to optimize their time for learning, transforming what might have been downtime into productive study sessions.
To further enhance mobile learning, educational institutions and e-learning platforms are utilizing interactive mobile applications, such as the Open edX® Mobile App from Raccoon Gang. These programs go beyond merely providing content; they engage students through quizzes, flashcards, and interactive simulations.
When trying to improve the effectiveness of online learning, the goal is to create a sense of human connection. At times, this can require the use of multimedia tools to keep the lecture as interactive as possible. Using apps to bring together the entire class in an informal meeting or create a party room for students to chat during breaks are a few examples. Making students feel welcomed in a virtual classroom prevents them from feeling alienated.
3. Respond to Regular Feedback
Collecting student feedback can help identify which methods increase the effectiveness of online learning, and which ones need improvement. An effective learning environment is a continuous work in progress. Each student has different requirements, and not all students respond to the same teaching method as others. One student may absorb information better in text form, but another may prefer visual multimedia presentations. To facilitate the learning and academic growth of the entire classroom as a whole, feedback from every student is vital.
Reflecting on improvements that can be made to the curriculum or the mode of delivery of the lecture will allow you to make changes to improve the eLearning experience. Various learning styles exist, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Knowing which style students respond more to can help increase the effectiveness of online learning. Some aspects of your teaching style may seem convenient to you but may act as a hurdle in the student’s progress. Therefore, considering their needs is vital.
Measuring the Effectiveness
Additionally, evaluation of assessments and assignments can help determine the effectiveness of the online learning approach you have taken. If students are performing well, you can rest assured that there is plenty of communication and the coursework is being conveyed to them efficiently. However, if their work shows signs of confusion, there may be an issue in the lecture’s lecture or content. In either case, feedback can give you a clear picture of how successful your online education approach is.
Result-oriented assessments can be designed to analyze the student’s areas of strengths and weaknesses. The results can be used to recommend resources or study materials for the area of improvement. This is a progressive and effective alternative to a student failing the course and having to retake it. With the disadvantages that distance learning brings, it is even more important to make sure that students receive a fair chance in receiving their education.
Asking for feedback directly lets students know that their opinions matter and that they are part of a team that works to improve and uplift one another. Essential questions to ask students in the feedback can be based on assigning a numerical value to each answer.
Rate the following questions or statements on a scale of 1 to 5. (1 = very poor, 2= poor, 3 = average, 4 = good, 5 = very good):
The eLearning tool being used in this lecture is convenient to navigate.
How would you rate the technicalities (audio, video, connectivity) of the online lecture?
The lesson plan is well-paced and clear.
Relating to this course, how effective is online learning?
Questions and concerns regarding the course or eLearning tool are addressed promptly.
Additionally, students can also be requested to send in their suggestions on how to improve the effectiveness of the online learning experience. They might be more aware of various digital platforms or new technology that is suited for online educational purposes. Assistance from the IT department and administration should also be constantly present to help make the process as seamless as possible. This will also make them feel included in the classroom, encouraging interaction amongst peers.
It is helpful to keep an open line of informal and formal communication by having working hours, during which students can contact the instructor. If the instructor has a preferred means of contact, then that should also be specified clearly to ensure that the students receive the support or help they need. In a time of isolation, communication of any form has become necessary as many people may be suffering academically and emotionally.
With everyone around the globe attempting to adapt to the new and unexpected norm of virtual classrooms, it is a certainty that new digital platforms and software will be available sooner instead of further down the road. The effectiveness of online learning lies in the interpersonal connection between student and teacher, and the mode of eLearning being used. Researching subject material to outline a course that is conducive to online learning is useful to prioritize the knowledge that needs to be conveyed to the students.
Ease of access and availability of online platforms and course materials for all students should be a priority for educational institutions, to make sure no one’s academic life suffers, especially when it comes to continuing education.
Preparation in advance, through tutorial videos or instructions, can allow the students to focus on the coursework instead of spending their time working out the technicalities of the system. The sudden shift in educational systems around the world makes it crucial to establish strong connections between teachers and students to ensure the effectiveness of online learning.