Embracing digital communication through emails, student chat rooms, social media channels, online forums and more is the key to increasing the effectiveness of online learning. Students can interact with classmates and ask questions relevant to the course and assignments. John Mitchell is a professor of computer science and former vice-chancellor for teaching and learning at Stanford. Maxwell Bigman is a PhD candidate at Stanford Graduate School of Education.
The two surveyed the online experiences of the Stanford Department of Computer Science, home of the university's largest undergraduate major with more than 2,000 declared students. How to improve version 2.0 of online learning. Here are some simple and straightforward ways to ensure that the second round of online learning is significantly better than it was in the spring. We owe it to our students to ensure that Virtual Learning 2.0 is far superior to what it was last spring.
Technology allows us to go beyond replacement and redefine learning. As we move into a new school year, we have an opportunity to reflect and consider incorporating some of the following effective online learning practices: Ensuring that content is accessible means knowing that a document should never be scanned, since a screen reader cannot read, translate, or complete it online. Instead, you should use an accessible source document or create new content with accessibility in mind. Therefore, you need to learn how to create content that has alternative text, a proper heading structure, meaningful hyperlinks, closed captions for videos, and adequate color contrast.
It's also important to write in simple language so that content can be more easily understood and translated. The National Center for Accessible Educational Materials (opens in a new tab) has resources and courses to help teachers create accessible content. One of the best things about online courses is that assessment can become more of an ongoing process. This is good news for students, as interspersing multimedia content and learning materials with regular short exams can improve student participation. In fact, Harvard research showed that using these short, regular tests halved student distraction, tripled note-taking, and improved overall student retention of content. Here are five reasons online learning may be more effective than enrolling in an in-person training course.
We need to go beyond that short-term thinking now to make online learning work better for instructors, students, parents, everyone. Before any online program can expect to be successful, it must have students who can access the online learning environment. It's easy to include distinguished guest experts or students from other institutions in an online class. The reasons are simple: you want to be prepared to support any statement made in the course material; not all students digest information in the same way; and some may need further explanation through examples or additional tests. Unfortunately, it's not a question of whether the equipment used in an online program will fail but rather when. Asynchronous online education gives students control over their learning experience and allows flexibility of study schedules for non-traditional students; however, this imposes greater accountability on the student. The great thing about online learning is that there are already tons of high-quality materials available for free.
Teachers can contact their learning networks to have a guest speaker who can work in a field they are teaching. In such a case, an institution that is not aware of the importance of proper facilitator training, essential facilitator characteristics, and class size limitations would not understand the impact these elements can have on the success of an online program. Anyone can create a simple online course; however, increasing the effectiveness of online learning is completely different. However, even if a virtual teacher is competent enough to create a comfortable virtual environment in which the class can operate, the lack of physical presence in an institution can be a limitation for an online program. In this way, students control their own learning experience and adapt class discussions to meet their own specific needs.
Both students and facilitators must have a minimum level of computer skills to function properly in an online environment. To ensure success with virtual learning 2.0 we need to focus on creating accessible content with alternative text; writing in simple language; interspersing multimedia content with regular short exams; including distinguished guest experts; preparing for equipment failure; providing flexibility for non-traditional students; and having minimum computer skills requirements.