Delivering a great online learning experience requires three main components: effective faculty enablement and training, great-looking courses and course content, and a reliable, cost-effective learning management system. The actual LMS is just a small part of an effective teaching and learning program.
Higher education responded to COVID well, ensuring continuity of education for millions of learners. That effort has resulted in increased learner expectations for online learning, both in availability and quality of online courses.
Institutions that prioritize investment in faculty training and enablement, effective instructional design, and great-looking course content will see significant returns in terms of learner outcomes and satisfaction.
Invest Time & Resources in Faculty
The dollars spent on learning management software are just a fraction of your investment. Colleges and universities must also consider the time it takes to onboard faculty and staff into a new system. Staff must know how to use the software properly to take advantage of its features to create engaging and effective online courses. When choosing your LMS, see if the platform offers training sessions about its functionality for instructors. Investing the time to train staff on how to use a new system upfront will save many headaches down the road.
Additionally, designate a person or team within your institution who is the go-to for your online learning platform. This person will be an extremely valuable resource because they can help keep faculty and staff in the loop about updates coming to the program, troubleshoot issues they may experience, and be a liaison between the LMS and the college and university.
Make Attractive & Meaningful Courses & Content
You only have one chance to make a first impression, whether that’s via email, your institution’s website or the first class a student logs onto. Content within your online courses must be engaging and present information in a clear, concise manner. Text on a screen shouldn’t be the only medium – instructors must also consider using interactive content like videos and graphics to help students stay engaged throughout the course and show their mastery of certain topics.
No two courses at an institution are quite the same, so content shouldn’t be shoehorned to fit one template or class set-up in an LMS. It’s important that online classes be customizable to shape and mold a course that best meets the needs of learners.
When your faculty and staff need help, or your point-person has a question, you need to be able to get answers. When examining an LMS’s functionality and capabilities, also consider how responsive their customer service is to client inquiries. Are they able to not only quickly respond, but also find a solution to your problem? Institutions can’t afford to be bogged down with technical issues, so finding an online learning partner who can integrate services, support, consulting, and content and product design will help your team reach its learning goals.
The rapid shift to online learning – and its staying power – have shown us what is possible when it comes to providing learners a pathway to higher education. For eLearning to be a truly effective and engaging experience, however, institutions must be willing to invest beyond the technology to make it worthwhile for both students and faculty.
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