What is Online learning?
Online learning (also referred to as distance Learning) is training delivered to students or participants who do not gather together regularly in the same place to receive it in person from the trainer. Essentially detailed materials and instructions are sent or made available to students who carry out tasks which are in turn evaluated by the trainer. In fact the trainer and learners may be separated not only geographically but also in time.
Why is Online learning used?
Online learning allows students to undertake training whenever and where ever they are. It allows them to fit their learning and education around other responsibilities and commitments such as family and work. It also gives students, who would not otherwise be able to learn because of time, distance or financial difficulties, the opportunity to participate. It also has the potential to make less commonly taught subjects available to more learners.
Pros and cons of Online learning
Online learning can be very effective, especially for more mature learners who have strong motives for wanting to succeed and are happy to be in charge of their own learning. However, successful Online Learning programs, cutting out the relentless timetable of face-to-face learning are nonetheless not an easy option for either learner or trainer. Here are some of the pros and cons:
- Easy logistics — all you need is good communications
- Students are in control of when they learn and at what pace
- It can be more affordable/possible because students can fit study around work
- One to one Trainer support
- How is Online learning delivered?
- Online learning is delivered using a variety of techniques at a distance that have been used successfully for many years. Methods of delivery include:
- One to one Trainer Supported via Skype, Team Viewer, Go to meeting, email, phone,
- Written materials, online materials, industry newsletters: this is textual matter written specifically for the Online learning course, for example a workbook involving exercises and tasks, which the participants work through at their own speed.
There are some critical success factors for Online learning:
- The trainer is enthusiastic and committed
- The team include good training and administrative support and, depending in the type of materials and delivery methods used, a good design and production staff
- The teaching materials are planned and developed with the learner in mind
- There is one to one support and encouragement of the learner, opening up available lines of communication
- The trainer keeps in regular contact with all the students
- Competent use of any technology used is a prerequisite. It should be fully tested and explained to the students so they are familiar and comfortable with it
- Communication and technical problems are dealt with as they arise
- Trainers use a variety of methods for interaction and feedback (eg one-on-one and conference calls, snail-mails, e-mail and face to face meetings if required)
- The Trainer ensures that the learner can contact them at any time and expect a response to their query within 48 hours
- The Online Trainer builds up rapport with their distance student and builds a bond of support and collaboration