Online courses, distance learning, or whatever you want to call an ever growing platform for online learning; and forcibly gaining in popularity. Established schools are ramping up in building their LMS (Learning Management System) and others are replacing some their ‘Offline” courses with online modules. Why not? With the availability of broadband connectivity, promise of flexibility in learning and great asynchronous learning platforms promotes to adapt with current learner’s needs. If you’re familiar with YouTube or any other form of online media – learning online should be a breeze. This is great if everyone is a digital native (person born after the mass implementation of technology) but, majority of demographics taking advantage of learning formats in the platform of “anything – anywhere learning” i.e. online courses are digital foreigners (person born before the mass implementation of technology) i.e. career changers and full time workers. The growth of smart phones and applications is a good indicator of how learners are moving towards wider audience, faster response, more intimate communication but digitally in how they want their learning structured. This movement obviously fits an online learning infrastructure. Studies show in 2009 from the Department of Education states that, “Students who took all or part of their class online performed better, on average, than those taking the same course through traditional face-to-face instruction.”
However, the caveat with this platform is that though many have transitioned to this type of learning environment, the probable audience does not move as fast into this mold. Though the benefits of online learning align to benefit the digital native mass, there are plenty of adults who are leery leaving what they know as a learning methodology. This is a short term but still ongoing issue with current learners. In short, not everybody has bought in to the effectiveness of online learning. And, there’s a good number that are, even in today’s world of 4G connectivity have not engaged fully with what online resource have to offer. There’s an obvious prerequisite for online learners prior to signing up in a dynamic world of distance education and that is to understand the various functionality of common technologies i.e. social network or web 2.0. This is what’s troubling with learners that are not ready to dive and commit to online learning, the sense of being lost in an ever changing technical landscape that only the digital natives can embrace and deploy.
If you’re thinking about a decade ago in how online courses are designed and deployed with reading assignments and PowerPoint presentations can work with today’s learners; you’re wrong, you’ll find more success implementing that in an “Offline” class. Much of what learners are interacting today is as close as real time as possible. Interactivity is key with digital natives as well as immigrants. In search for answers, learners are looking for speed as well as selections. So, there’s not only a requirement to what was the standard of multimedia platform. Today, learners must also know and understand various mediums like Flash Players to accommodate emerging multimedia platforms. Stop and take assessment on how video games are now being marketed as the new standard. You no longer need a controller to play video games because the video game unit will register and utilize your body movement to control the movements. Here’s another thing, this innovation is only an opener to a whole slew of other virtual devices that can operate from what we know as norm.
The Bad, online learners definitely need to familiarize themselves first to fully benefit the robust features of learning management systems to be successful. The Good, everybody is getting better in getting expose and understanding technology.