4 eLearning Courses To Boost Your Career Options

"Sharpening the saw" is vital in a competitive jobs marketplace. To stay relevant and for your employer to have trouble letting go of you, seek to continuously learn. This article lists several courses and MOOC platforms to consider should you decide to boost your career options.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

6 Practical Ways To Reap The Maximum Benefits Of MOOCs

A major percentage doesn’t even complete the half of a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), let alone benefiting from it. Here are the things to keep in mind to shun the weaknesses associated with online learning, and pull out the maximum benefits of MOOCs.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

4 Ways To Turn Online Learning Weaknesses Into Strengths

4 Online Learning Weaknesses And How To Turn Them Into Online Learning Strengths 

Online classes have a unique opportunity over traditional classrooms. Students can be reached from metropolitan areas to obscure locations. Online learning is quickly becoming more popular than traditional classroom settings, yet it is still a relatively new way of educating students. There are some issues that continue to plague online classes, fairly or unfairly, that are actually strengths in disguise. The following four points offer ways to help address common concerns in online classes and turn online learning weaknesses into selling points for any online program:

  1. Missing a human presence.
    One of the benefits of a traditional classroom is the teacher is available to talk to immediately when there is a question or a concern. The student is also surrounded by their peers which can be both a good and a not so good thing. Good in the sense that if there are questions and the teacher is not accessible, another student can answer them as well. The other side of that is peer pressure and fear of inadequacy that deter students from learning. An instructor observing a classroom can see these tendencies and help encourage learning and minimize issues. Online courses can still have a human presence within them. Some students have a feeling of isolation and reservation about taking online classes. Others may feel positive about taking the course, but unsure how the actual mechanics of online classes work (everything from logging into class, posting discussions or turning in assignments). Instructors can schedule regular conversations over the phone, provide video announcements, and even use online conferencing software to make students feel more comfortable and guide them through the learning process.
  2. Lack of motivation.
    Signing up for online classes is only half the battle! Schools are struggling with extremely high attrition rates and the race is on to figure out how to slow it down. Part of the reason students are leaving is the feeling of isolation mentioned earlier, while another part is having to deal with day-to-day external factors. Let’s face it; it would be extremely tough for anyone to focus on grasping an assignment when there is a threat of losing a job or wondering where the next meal will come from. Unfortunately, these types of issues (and more) are common and, in some cases, supersede the ability to learn.
  3. Student attrition.
    Instructors can play a major role in reducing student attrition, if they understand that education is all encompassing. The experience that teachers have acquired over the years is invaluable to student development. Sharing positive examples of overcoming life’s challenges provide students with hope and determination. Teachers can also assess the emotional levels of their students by asking them to take an Emotional Intelligence survey at the beginning of class and sharing the results with them and ways to improve in particular areas. For example, if a student scores low in social skills, the instructor can challenge them to read about inspirational leaders, give examples of the people that influence them, and offer assignments that involve actively working in a collaborate team. Giving feedback on those assignments is priceless. This also works with helping students make good decisions regarding their personal situations. Students are still gaining experience so having a teacher and a mentor will only help.
  4. Unqualified instructors.
    For all that the students must do, instructors also have a part to play in learning. There are times when classes are poorly designed, have below par implementation, and frankly not taught very well. There, I said it! A degree of responsibility falls on the teacher when students want to learn, but are unable to do so based on an unqualified instructor teaching a course. There are times that there is no choice but for a teacher to teach a class that he/she may not be as comfortable with. However, this should never be blatantly apparent to students. Instructors should also be life-long learners. Students look up to their teachers and consider them “the guru”. The period before classes start is an excellent time to learn as many relevant class skills as possible. Preparation can overcome lack of knowledge. During the breaks between classes, teachers should challenge themselves to learn a new skill that could be useful down the road. Asking questions to other instructors and learning about their success (and challenges) can make a difference between keeping a student engaged in your class and having high absenteeism. Just like students, teachers can use less than favorable situations and turn them into opportunities to grow. eLearning has immense potential and with a new perspective from instructors, students can enjoy a better educational experience.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

3 Benefits Of Integrating eLearning Into Knowledge Dissemination

Benefits Of Integrating eLearning Into Knowledge Dissemination

eLearning has become commonplace in American colleges and universities as a delivery mechanism for educational content. This includes both online courses that are available for credit to registered students at institutes of higher education, but also Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), which give anyone in the world the opportunity to take a class taught by the world’s leading scholars. The Harvard Business Review reports that over 25 million people have taken a MOOC, most of which were educated and from a developed country, but also included individuals from 212 countries around the world (1).

However, the benefits of online learning in academia are not limited to student instruction; they can also be applied to the dissemination of scholarly research. Traditionally, knowledge has been diffused, which is defined by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research as “passive, unplanned, uncontrolled dissemination; primarily horizontal or mediated by peers (e.g. publishing in peer reviewed journals, presenting research results to peers at academic conferences); potential user needs to seek out the information” (2). In many areas of research, such as in health-related and environmental disciplines, the purpose of research is to apply findings in the real world. However knowledge diffusion, such as publishing the results of academic research in peer reviewed journals, is not an ideal way of making research findings accessible to individuals who may actually put research into practice, such as health practitioners or policy makers.

Recent revelations in the limitations of knowledge diffusion has spurred the emergence of knowledge dissemination, which is defined by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research as an “active process to communicate results to potential users by targeting, tailoring and packaging the message for a particular target audience” (2). This process is much more deliberate than knowledge diffusion, and includes a specific effort to target communications to those who can put research findings into practice. Considering the shift from passive knowledge diffusion to active knowledge dissemination, eLearning now has a role to play in the communication of academic research to the wider public. In fact, there are a number of benefits that eLearning specifically brings to the practice of knowledge dissemination.

  1. Multimedia.
    With the exception of simple data tables and graphs, there are no visual representations of research results in peer-reviewed scholarly articles. For those who are more visual learners, this type of communication may be less than successful in producing meaningful understanding. Furthermore, reading such information requires an advanced reading level that may isolate those who are unfamiliar with academic writing but may still be important targets for knowledge dissemination. Inherent to eLearning is the integration of many types of multimedia that can improve the understanding of a non-academic target audience. Videos, animation, images, graphs, and other types of media can all be effectively used to describe the rationale, methods, results, and implications of research that can be easily consumed by the viewer.
  2. Interactivity.
    Research has shown that giving the learner an opportunity to interact with content fosters a deeper understanding of the material and a higher probability that the information presented will be applied3. By using eLearning content as a method of research dissemination, users can interact with the material in multiple ways. One method could be to develop a ‘virtual laboratory’ that allows the learner to explore the implications of a research finding. For example, in a study that has established the relationship between educational attainment and various health outcomes, a learner can see how an individual’s predicted health in later life changes if they were to earn a Bachelor’s Degree or just complete high school.
  3. Integrated Feedback.
    When traditional research diffusion methods are used, there is no way to verify whether understanding has actually occurred. However, when employing eLearning methods and tools to communicate research to a wide audience, feedback can be integrated to give both the learner and the designer an idea of how well the learner has understood the content. This can be done through traditional testing methods, such as multiple choice questions about the results of research, or through methods that promote a deeper understanding of the material, such as requiring the learner to write a paragraph on how the results of the research can be applied in the learner’s particular context.

In conclusion, is it clear that the integration of eLearning into higher education has been pervasive. However, it should not only be considered a tool for instruction, but also as a tool to aid in the dissemination of research. In particular, the opportunity to include engaging multimedia, interaction, and feedback into the dissemination of knowledge increases the chance that the results of research will successfully be integrated into practice.

References:

  1. Zhenghao, C., Alcorn, B., Christensen, G., Eriksson, N., Koller, D. (September, 2015). Who’s benefiting from MOOCs, and why. Retrieved from the Harvard Business Review website.
  2. Gagnon, M. (2010). Section 5.1 knowledge dissemination and exchange of knowledge. Retrieved from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research website.
  3. Moreno, R., & Mayer, R. (2007). Interactive multimodal learning environments. Educational Psychology Review, 19, 309-326.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.