What is distance education?
The Internet provides endless opportunities for content sharing and creation, but simultaneously it leads to informational overload, distractions, and frustrations. We can only learn something if we organize this endless flow of content. That’s why online course services and learning management systems are here.
Large open online courses are organized by the management system embedded in the website where they’re placed. A learning management system (LMS) app is necessary for corporate and personal courses to organize the course material properly. In CleverLMS, you can create your own classes and organize learners by being constantly in touch with them and rewarding them with learning points.
Online education may be beneficial, enabling you to nourish your skills and enhance your knowledge about the world. In many cases, you may do that for free, although you’d probably like to pay money to earn a degree or obtain a specific skill set for your work. Now, let’s dive into online learning’s essentials and see how it works.
Distance online education is when at least part of the learning processes are conducted online. It includes various forms of educational materials: together, they transfer knowledge in a perceivable form from teachers to learners. Let’s explore some of them.
- Lectures are public speeches, often with presentations, aiming to explore and explain topics from physics to work safety. It’s a basis of a theoretical part of most courses.
- Demonstrations are usually much shorter than lectures and show a specific action to teach some skill: from programming and design to soldering.
- Seminars are practice sessions where learners do theoretical and practical work to strengthen and consolidate knowledge and apply their skills. They often require physical presence to use physical tools, but in many cases can be performed online using a screen demonstration, such as when learning programming.
- Discussions and interactive sessions allow learners to learn and organize their knowledge in practice, interacting with teachers and peers. They are handy for teaching social and creative skills like marketing or writing.
- Personal tasks, such as quizzes and exams, are either theoretical or practice work that learners should perform to consolidate their knowledge and show what they’ve learned.
How it works: Types, purposes, and quality
Coursera is the world’s world’s largest provider of online courses, and you can see below how its stats skyrocketed on the World Economic Forum’s statistics below. Remember that there are many other providers, including large universities such as MIT and hundreds of thousands of experts sharing their knowledge. So, thousands of millions of people around the world are engaged in distance education!
Distance education’s meaning may be different depending on your purpose. There are MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) placed online by large educational organizations. Corporate education uses learning management systems (LMS) to teach employees new skills, improve existing ones, and increase their performance. Also, personal courses can be created by varieties of specialists to share their skills and earn money through this. Lastly, the Internet is full of educational videos for virtually all topics: just open YouTube and write something like “learn design” or “learn Spanish.”
Similarly, there are various purposes:
- obtaining a degree for future work (such as in the university),
- improving skills and performance (corporate learning),
- personal goals, such as learning a language or discovering something new.
Often they are interconnected: we usually obtain a degree in topics we love personally. We also can learn some skills online by ourselves, such as design, and use them to earn money.
However, evaluating the quality of personal courses and especially single educational videos, is much more challenging. So, be sure that they actually teach you the skill you need and don’t share misinformation. Here’re some tips about how to evaluate it.
- Quality assurance (QA): while you’ve probably heard this term in the mobile development context, similar procedures are also applied to online courses. See the course’s structure, how various educational elements are combined, and which tasks are used to evaluate the learner’s progress. It’ll show you how well the course fulfills its purpose.
- The course’s authors and instructors may give you a clue to its quality and aims. What are their specialization and experience, and why did they create this course – to teach you, share their knowledge, or just earn money?
- Lastly, educational standards, such as UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers, contain a reasonable basis for online course evaluation so that you can check them.
Programs and examples
There are various services dedicated to distance education online learning. Let’s see the most popular and well-known ones.
- Coursera is, as mentioned, the largest provider of online courses for various purposes: academic, professional, and personal. Many of them are totally free, although a fee is required to obtain a degree.
- edX is similar to Coursera in many ways, also enabling people to advance their careers, but it’s mostly oriented on science and engineering education.
- MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) is a platform of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, representing various free lectures and interactive content from MIT’s specialists and professors. Everyone may access them to improve their knowledge.
- Udacity is a platform where specialists in various fields, from programming to marketing, can post their courses to exchange knowledge and earn money.
- Khan Academy is a non-profit learning organization featuring school- and college-level courses in various scientific fields.
So, many universities and educational companies provide distance education programs, enabling learners to obtain a degree for completion. They place their courses on platforms above or create their own, such as OCW. Most universities provide online learning opportunities in the post-COVID era, and it’s much more than simply extramural studies.
Learning management systems
You should organize all your activity to make distance education online learning efficient. While MOOC platforms use their own methods, learning management systems (LMS) enable you to manage your course for personal or working purposes. A good LMS hosts various types of educational materials, provides tools for motivation, such as rewards and gamification, and analyzes results, showing concise statistics. In addition, all data should be accessible offline, and communication/file transfer options are also necessary. It will enable users to utilize all benefits of online education: 24/7 access to materials and being constantly in touch with peers and teachers.
CleverLMS is designed to meet the increasing demand of companies to modernize and adopt new skills and techs. Here, you can upload videos, graphic materials, various text documents, or even the whole course in SCORM format. After each task completion, learners earn reward points, which they may spend in the store for corporate gifts, which your company’s management selects by themselves. Course administrators may quickly generate reports to evaluate how employees progress in their studying. Lastly, a news feed and vast communication options, from messages to video calls, ensure everyone will be connected, obtaining feedback and necessary help.
Online education is a highly promising approach to making education more flexible and efficient. Distance education online applications include MOOCs, personal courses posted on platforms like Udemy or YouTube, and specialized courses organized with apps such as CleverLMS, primarily for corporate education.
While the general aim is to transfer knowledge efficiently, specific purposes determine which materials will be used and how. So, wrapping up, let’s overview several examples which may help manage your future education.
⚛️ To teach science, such as physics, you’ll need lectures, graphical materials, and experiment demonstrations to ensure that a learner will not get lost in all these numbers and formulas and comprehend all processes.
🧱 To gain or improve practical skills, for example, learning design in Adobe Illustration, practical tasks performed with screen demonstration and detailed step-by-step description would work best.
💬 Lastly, soft skills, such as sales, require interactive education where learners will communicate and perform many small tasks dedicated to overcoming hesitation and improving the ability to persuade.
By Shekar Subramani
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