The main reason why a majority of learners prefer enrolling in an online program but easily get carried away is the poorly designed online course. When the course is not developed strategically or not delivered properly, it fails to keep learners engaged. They end up dealing with a lot of stress, pressure, and workload.
Having said this, we don’t mean that it is really difficult to develop an online course - you just should incorporate some effective learning strategies to make the learning experience a successful one.
Let’s discuss some basic and highly recommended online learning strategies to achieve the most out of any online learning program.
Online Learning Environment and Strategies for Success
A strong course outline, well-organized content, clear instructions, collaborative learning and timely feedbacks are just some of the many online learning strategies that work as the building blocks for an online course management plan.
With that, it is also imperative to choose right platform, communication tools and to address the technological problems. All of these considerations will help in managing learners’ expectations and building a healthy learning community.
Main strategies for success in the online learning environment are the following:
- Keep Learners Involved;
- Keep Content Relevant to Learners’ Objective;
- Make Learners Get Familiar with Course Outline;
- Incorporate Assessments and Quizzes at the End of Every Lesson or Module;
- Make Collaboration Work.
Strategy #1 – Keep Learners Involved
An online course is not just about providing material and expecting learners to read or view the content. This is a false yet common perception of online learning courses. However, an online learning platform is just like a classroom where learners have needs to interact and collaborate. When learners are actively involved in a learning course material, they are more likely to show up in each session and on regular basis. One of the best ways to keep learners engaged is to give them timely feedback on their performance, give them a chance to contribute and share their ideas with fellow classmates through discussion forums or group discussions.
Instructors are also required to increase their interaction with learners. This becomes highly motivating for learners.
Strategy #2 – Keep Content Relevant to Learners’ Objective
A traditional building block course could discourage learners if they fail to see how the content is applicable in the real world or their profession.
There are 2 things that need to be done to make sure that your content is relevant to learners:
1. Every building block needs to be logically connected with previous block(s), short-term objective (what you’ll learn with this block and how you can use it in a real-life situation) and long-term objective (how this can help you in achieving of your professional/personal objectives)
2. Learners need to clearly see these logical connections
There are four proven ways to establish the relevance of content with the learners:
- Discuss how content can be applied in the real world;
- Make links or provide examples of local cases;
- Relate the subject matter with everyday applications;
- Find and discuss applications in recent newsworthy events and issues.
Strategy #3 - Make Learners Get Familiar with Course Outline
Starting the online course program, you should make learners familiar with the course outline. When learners are fully familiar with the course outline they can allocate sufficient time for each part of the syllabus, ensuring a better understanding of the content. Plus, this will help them acquire additional learning resources to successfully clear different learning stages.
Students, who understand the course outline at the beginning of the online program, manage their time wisely. Time management and understanding of the content by students are the two major factors that can make or break your online learning program.
When learners fully understand the course outline, it facilitates learners as well as instructors in the following areas:
- Students get a clear understanding of the learning outcomes which they are expected to achieve at the course completion;
- Necessary or additional resources that are required during the course;
- Understanding of the content requirements along with required deliverables;
- A proper understanding of the examination and grading policies in terms of evaluations;
- The online course schedule including deadlines with regards to reading, quizzes, discussion posts, discussion board postings and others;
- Dates and times of possible class meetings that may need one to log in at a particular time or day.
Strategy #4 - Incorporate Assessments and Quizzes at the End of Every Lesson or Module
Assessments and quizzes are the best way to gauge the understanding level of learners. End of session evaluations is best known for boosting knowledge retention rates.
Assessment or evaluation of the performance helps both the learners and instructors. The evaluation helps instructors to modify or adjust their teaching methodologies to meet the pace and understanding of the students. This is not possible unless instructors are fully aware of the learners understanding level. Similarly, it provides learners a great chance to know the improvement areas or to know where they are lacking in achieving their learning objectives. In addition to this, the integration of tests and quizzes at the end of every module or session allow instructors as well as course developers to assess the effectiveness of the eLearning course.
The point is not just to take quizzes or tests but also to make them an interactive and important aspect of your learning content. For instance, after every session, the instructor can take a brief and interactive quiz of the learned material. They can ask the student about the implication of the idea in real-life scenarios that must only be solved by learners by using the newly gained knowledge or skill.
To make the quizzes interactive, use technology and incorporate audio-video content. You may also go with gamification and incorporate click or competitive games that will test the students’ knowledge while keeping them engaged. All of this will eventually tell you about how effective the course syllabus is if the teaching methodology best suit the learning objectives or if the learning program is productive or not.
Strategy #5 - Make Collaboration Work
Student involvement is crucial to have a successful online learning program. One of the most commonly used methodologies to improve interaction among learners is PLC – Professional Learning Communities. In this practice, a group of learners collaborates regularly through discussion boards, emails, group phone calls, video conferencing and others. They discuss the topics and issues that are relevant to the content.
The other way is to introduce group assignments. In this methodology, instructor explicitly defines the expectations to facilitate a collaborative learning environment. Before the start of the assignment, learning groups determine who will be responsible for which aspect of the assignment. For this instructors can further facilitate the learners by providing a chart outlining the different assignment sections.
The students can also use advanced technological tools such as blogs, wikis, and podcasts to collaborate in a better and more purposeful manner.
The Final Words
Online learning gives a learner a great flexibility to balance family, work, and school. Thus, the online course must be designed in a way that would help learners to learn at their own pace, anywhere and at anytime 24/7. It should fulfill learners’ learning preference and objectives.
It is crucial to make the most of this opportunity and achieve your goals of developing a successful online training program. So make the most of your resources and don’t hesitate in seeking the required help in any phase of course development. The challenges of online learning will be there but they are only temporary and the only way to overcome these is to plan and strategize your learning program journey until you establish a successful online learning environment.