Not all online classes are made equal. While online learning has been around for a long time, it is still a nascent industry compared to traditional educational institutes.
You can find a whole heap of online learning courses on the internet that do little more than boring you to tears and not leaving you with much to learn from them. Receiving a quality education is a critical factor. There is no point in taking a class if you cannot learn anything from it.
If you know what to look for, you can find some truly inspired, engaging, and educational online courses that can exceed your expectations from distance learning.
I will tell you some of the factors that only the best online learning courses have. This will help you better determine the quality of the courses and whether they are worth your time, effort, and money.
The pacing is a fine balance that online courses need to strike. I think proper pacing is one of the most critical properties for an online course.
When I say proper pacing, I mean that the course should neither bore the student nor overwhelm them. The course should be divided into classes, projects, assignments, and tests in a way that it conveys larger concepts as well as remain engaging through smaller assignments. At the same time, these smaller assignments should be achievable so that students do not become stressed or caught up in tedious work.
2. High-Quality Content
It is only natural that you will find yourself more engaged when you have access to study materials that are more interesting and keep you curious to learn more. If you take on a course that has nothing but dry reading material, bland textbooks, and endless quizzes that bore you to death, it is difficult to think that you will manage to do any real learning.
This situation can be the same in traditional classes. If you have a teacher who tries to engage the entire class and delivers them knowledge in a way that it is fun for them to learn, students tend to retain more information and understand the concepts. Low-quality content, like classes with uninterested and boring teachers, feels like a chore.
High-quality content can come in many shapes and forms. It can be through audio presentations, interactive websites, videos, and much more. You can even have reading material and quizzes that offer high-quality execution. The real point is whether the mode of education can lend itself to natural learning.
3. Multimedia Integration
On that note, another critical factor that can make an excellent online learning course is multimedia integration. Online classes can present you content in a way that is drastically different from books and lectures in big halls. The best online courses do not think of this change as a limitation, but as an opportunity.
It opens up the doors for integrating several multimedia elements into your classes. Videos, interactive online activities, podcasts, and much more can become a vital part of these classes to deliver you high-quality content.
While it might not be ideal to completely do away with reading material, adding these avenues can boost information retention by garnering more attention. Of course, it is not merely a matter of adding multimedia for the sake of it.
The content has to have quality that can deliver the information with a clear purpose to engage and educate the person taking that course. An hour-long podcast of a professor mumbling about a topic is also multimedia integration, but it does not necessarily qualify as an engaging way to teach.
4. Self-Directed Classes
Online classes which cater to the needs of adults who can take responsibility for their own education are the best. Self-directed learning means that you have control over how you receive your education.
Since you are considering taking online classes that can help you learn the skills necessary to boost your prospects of entering or getting further in your respective career, self-directed learning can be ideal for you.
As an adult, you may have plenty of responsibilities that take up your time. You have to divide your energy between studying and your day-to-day affairs. If you take an online course that has a high degree of micromanagement, assignments that dictate how you are supposed to carry them out to the most painful detail, and rigid timelines, it can become frustrating at its worst, or simply become ineffective at best.
Online courses that give you sufficient freedom to design how you will explore and learn can help you make meaningful discoveries at your discretion. It can help you find the best aspects of the subject that interests you the most.
5. Multiple Avenues to Learn
Each individual has an affinity and is receptive towards learning in a unique way. Contrary to how traditional education works, learning should never be considered with a one-size-fits-all approach.
Some people are more inclined towards visual content, others might prefer hearing the information so they can retain it better. The best online courses will integrate several learning modalities like visual, audio, musical, and so on, into the courses wherever applicable.
It can help students enjoy further freedom in terms of self-directed learning and boost knowledge retention.
6. Ease of Use
It should go without saying, but the best online courses should allow students to navigate intuitively. The layout has to be straightforward and simple to follow. Students should not be left wondering what to do next.
The course should make it possible for you to understand how to access the information you need and give you resources that can aid you while you navigate the course. The best online courses will have third-party organizations review them to validate whether they have a design that is easy to follow.
7. Effective Use of Accessible Technology
You might find a plethora of online courses that use a wide array of technologies in how they present their courses to students. Many will require students to download several plug-ins or sign up for services that may not be relevant to their studies.
The issue is that this will likely backfire. It can create more problems for the students than resolve them and waste their time and energy in trying to troubleshoot various obstacles.
The best courses use only the technologies that are relevant, universally supported to maximize accessibility, and minimize problems that students might have to troubleshoot to pursue their studies. Universality of technology used can make the online learning experience much better for both the students and course providers.
8. Options for Additional Information
Excellent online learning courses will deliver all the relevant information to their students in the most effective manner possible. They will help students get information on topics that interest them to the degree they need to learn. Truly great online courses will also provide a depth of resources that can offer their students additional information in substantial detail.
Add-ons that give students room for extra exploration beyond the minimum can make the course more attractive. Of course, the online course should also maintain a balance between adding more valuable in-depth information and having too much supplemental information.
There should be sufficient additional resources for students to leverage if they choose to, but there needs to be a limit so that they do not become overwhelmed. To make the process easier, online courses should make it clear to students what is part of the core course and what are additional resources they can avail, should they choose to learn more.
Looking to expand your skills and gain a new qualification? Read our New Skills Academy Review