Adapting for online delivery: Is Online the best option?

Written by Phil Garing

Advocates of total online training solutions point torepparttar following sorts of advantages forrepparttar 109420 learner: -Learn anywhere at any time -Fit learning around personal commitments -Access a wide range of resources

And forrepparttar 109421 producer of learning materials, it means: -Potentially lower delivery costs -Access to wider groups of learners -Organisation-wide delivery of training -Integration with organisational goals such as knowledge management and organisational change

Totally valid reasons and significant benefits that justify considering online delivery of education. However they are not enough on their own to justify assuming an online solution is best. There are three main issues: 1. The online environment will not suit some learners 2. There may be other combinations of delivery tools that dorepparttar 109422 job better 3. There are some distinct disadvantages as well

The learners Online learning works well for learners that have moderate or better computing abilities. It is easy to underestimaterepparttar 109423 skills required. Challenges include managing internet connections, using browsers, downloading plugins or third party software, trouble shooting and file management. They also need to be good at managing their own time and competing commitments. Learners who need extensive support in managing their study programme may well not complete. This profile is not limited to people new to study. Those with extensive work commitments often drop out despite high initial motivation and good study skills.

Other Tools Despite improvements in bandwidth, few online training courses offerrepparttar 109424 degree of interaction found in classrooms or on CD Rom multimedia products. While technologies such as streaming media and videoconferencing do offer high end solutions, they are only useful ifrepparttar 109425 learners have genuine access to them: fast connections and current hardware and software.

These issues may not be relevant ifrepparttar 109426 content can be taught using lower level technological solutions. Often however, such solutions lead to superficial learning of facts only. There is a real danger in assuming that such solutions will lead to significant training outcomes. Everyone may complete, and pass, but will they have actually learned anything useful? More on this when we discuss designing for online learning.

Online Instruction: What works, what doesn't?

Written by Phil Garing

T.H.E. Journal has published a study where researchers interviewed 21 online instructors with a series of open-ended essay questions. We review their findings and add our own comments [in brackets]:

A lot of issues related to bandwidth limitations andrepparttar dominance of text in Web-based classes. [While wider bandwidth systems are being installed allrepparttar 109419 time, it seems that a lot of that extra capacity is being soaked up by new users, rather than allowing faster access to existing users. This problem may be around a while. One solution: don't rely solely onrepparttar 109420 Internet as your delivery medium. Text is more accessible to people in PRINT so leave it that way, exploitrepparttar 109421 Internet for its strengths as a visual medium, and a point of access to current information].

Some instructors feel as if a lifetime of teaching skills goes byrepparttar 109422 wayside. They can not use their presence and their classroom skills to get their point across. Nor can they use their oral skills to improvise onrepparttar 109423 spot to deal with behaviour problems or educational opportunities. [Synchronous communication methods such as chat provide a forum for immediate and personalised feedback, but they require a new set of skills from facilitators. They don't however facilitaterepparttar 109424 80% of communication that is non-verbal. Look carefully at your learner profile, face-to-face contact may well be an essential component of your delivery mechanism.]

Because ofrepparttar 109425 reliance on text-based communication and a lack of visual cues, every aspect ofrepparttar 109426 course has to be laid out in meticulous detail to avoid misunderstandings. [In many face-to-face environments, presentation materials such as OHPs, handouts etc. account for less than a third ofrepparttar 109427 process of instruction. The bulk comes fromrepparttar 109428 interaction between instructor and learner. Migrating to an online environment necessitates finding ways of capturing this process. Online courses that rely solely onrepparttar 109429 conversion of existing teaching resources will lack this depth of structure, and are consequently more likely to result in shallow learning and low motivation and retention levels.]

They respond to threaded discussion questions, evaluate assignments, and above all answer questions clearing up ambiguities, often spending an inordinate amount of time communicating by e-mail. [Fact: it takes longer to type something than say it. While online learning remains text based, it will always take more time to communicate. Because it is often asynchronous,repparttar 109430 process will continue to be repetitive for instructors. Solutions: design learning activities that provide extensive feedback for students; design instructor communication so that it addresses a range of issues in one hit; build communication between learners so they support each other.]

The Web environment presents a number of educational opportunities and advantages over traditional classes, such as many informational resources that can be seamlessly integrated intorepparttar 109431 class. [Proper integration not only requires making access torepparttar 109432 resources, but also putting in place learning activities that guide learners inrepparttar 109433 use ofrepparttar 109434 resources.]

The fact that students must write their thoughts down, andrepparttar 109435 realisation that those thoughts will be exposed semi-permanently to others inrepparttar 109436 class seem to result in a deeper level of discourse.

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