For years, many people thought that creating an e-learning course was as simple as taking an old PowerPoint presentation and publishing it in a fancy player. Lots of people have taken these so-called online courses, only to be given access to PowerPoint slides without audio in some cases. Which begs the question; “What is e-Learning and what is not?”
First let us first define e-Learning: “eLearning (Educational technology) includes numerous types of media that deliver text, audio, images, animation, and streaming video, and includes technology applications and processes such as audio or video tape, satellite TV, CD-ROM, and computer-based learning, as well as local intranet/extranet and web-based learning. Information and communication systems, whether free-standing or based on either local networks or the Internet in networked learning, underlie many e-learning processes”, Wikipedia.
In this article, we shall explore some of the components you should look out for in a standard online course:
• LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEM: An online course is often presented within a Learning Management System (LMS) requiring you to login via an account created.
As at 2015, over 87% of e-learning providers use a web-based LMS. 89% of LMS users access the e-learning contents via a desktop computer while 76% access via a laptop.
The LMS organizes your courses and course content, allows you to submit assignments, communicate with your instructor and other people in groups and discussion forums. The LMS also provides a framework for other navigation tools needed to facilitate the completion of the online course. In terms of satisfaction, according to educational technology & statistics, 65% of LMS users testify to having a higher course completion rate.
• COURSE MATERIALS: Online learners can be exposed to course materials in different formats.
By 2017, 98% of companies are expected to use videos as their digital learning strategy.
Other course materials can be provided in the form of recorded lectures, video presentations, slide presentations, podcasts etc. Typically, students are free to listen, read or watch assignments on their own schedule and these course materials can be accessed from mobile phones, tablets and other digital media devices.
• ASSIGNMENTS AND GROUP PROJECTS: A standard online training platform should contain a list of assignments and due dates. Most students will be required to submit assignments as well as participate in topics published on the discussion boards. Participation in class discussions or seminars may also be used as an assessment to assign points. Presentations and activities of all types should also be available on a standard online training platform. These materials and interactions are designed to provide you with the knowledge and experience you need to achieve the learning objectives. They also prepare you to complete the course assessments.
• GRADING: Although some students might wish otherwise, testing and assessments play a significant role in the virtual classroom. A standard online training should include assignments and/or surveys that you will be required to complete and submit. Your work is evaluated by your instructor, often with a grading Rubric (A rubric is a scoring tool that explicitly represents the performance expectations for an assignment or piece of work. A rubric divides the assigned work into component parts and provides clear descriptions of the characteristics of the work associated with each component, at varying levels of mastery), as a means of determining whether or not you have achieved the intended learning objectives for the course. Learning assessment and grading can take place in many ways. Examples are: Chapter-end quizzes, Mid-course and final exams, Presentations and projects among others.