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Online learning is everywhere these days. We have how-to articles, we have video tutorials, and audio books about how to do basically anything. Pick your format and start learning! Of course, on top of all that, there are full-blown courses, too.
These are a great all-round way to get the information we need, and even get it in a classroom-like environment without having to waste our time commuting. But what exactly makes for a winning online course?
Here are some of the essential things to implement if you’re creating one.
One major benefit of online learning is the freedom to move away from textbooks and inflexible tests with “fill in the blanks,” “circle one correct answer,” and so on. These formats, although they dominate formal educational institutions, are not a natural way for the human mind to learn. In fact, some argue that they are entirely worthless. Click here for an interesting perspective on that.
Rather, an online course should include the kind of content (regardless of actual data format) that a learner would naturally want to consume in order to learn about a specific topic. So, suppose you find a video, podcast, website, whatever content, about a topic your course will cover.
Now, imagine a person who is studying on their own stumbles on that content through an online search. Would they want to use it to understand the topic better? Or would they just gloss over that search result?
Imagine an expert on the topic of your course. Would they recommend that bit of content to an interested amateur?
If you can answer “yes” or “probably” to these scenarios, then your content deserves to be considered as a medium for natural learning.
A Feeling of Community
Even if there is no direct link between the instructor and students, like a videoconference class at set times, a good online course will be built as community-friendly. Students should have no fear of interacting with the instructors and other students, and they need an amicable atmosphere to do it.
One way to achieve this is to have discussion boards for off-topic communication where people can socialize and bond over something other than the course subject matter. Other methods include mandatory group assignments, avatar challenges, sharing pictures of “study space setups,” etc.
Fostering a strong community makes sure that students will feel free to ask for help when they need it and free to offer help when they can.
Smart Multimedia Application
The best online courses take advantage of the versatile nature of the web. They leverage the way we’re used to experiencing the Internet in general. In other words, they play around with different content formats.
These courses will mix and match videos, podcasts, interactive presentations, and various other multimedia combinations. The key to making multimedia work is to make sure it’s an appropriate quality.
First, the content must be sufficiently professionally created. Amateur production is okay, but stuff needs polishing. Imagine a grainy video of an old professor dryly nagging about a topic in his living room. Nope.
Furthermore, each element of the multimedia content has to have a distinct purpose. Rather than cramming a lot of variety into a relatively small cognitive space, everything needs a solid point; there can be no pointless fluff. Check out this link for some ideas on how to incorporate online resources in your courses: https://www.wikihow.com/Use-Web-Resources-for-Teaching
This is one of those things where “a pair of outside eyes” can make or break the end result. A course creator is involved in it from idea to implementation, so every segment is easy for them to understand – but not so for the end user.
In order to make sure the course is easy to navigate, have it reviewed by a few trusted “outsiders.” Ideally, you’ll have at least three people who have never looked at the course before review it. Let them determine how easily they can find everything they need and how confusing the course structure might be.
Courses in different areas, naturally, have different requirements to meet if they want to be top quality. Nonetheless, above are some of the essential traits that the best ones share, both for creators and learners alike.