eLearning is nothing new to the educational ecosystem. However, at this time, when the whole world is on high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic, eLearning has suddenly taken centre stage, it has gone from being an option or a form of supplementary education to become the main and only way for schools to continue with the business of teaching and learning at this time.
Having eLearning as a viable option to the brick and mortar educational learning set up, during disruptive times, should be welcomed, the question however is, are we there yet? Is eLearning really working for us all? Are we getting the best out of it or is it merely a momentary buzz that will fade away with the eradication of COVID-19. Are we just tolerating it now?
In the last few weeks, I have had the privilege of viewing some eLearning sessions presented by educators from some schools. I have noted a few pointers from my findings which I hope will help enhance the eLearning experience for some learning institutions and educators, who that are finding it challenging to effectively implement eLearning.
Choosing an eLearning platform can be quite a challenging task. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has triggered school closures due to health concerns has made it even more challenging due to the influx of free and discounted e-learning platforms on the market, from vendors looking to cash in on the massive surge in demand for eLearning services by schools. In spite of all of this, with proper planning and implementation, in place, the process can be relatively easy and straight forward.
In a school where eLearning is almost non-existent, it is essential to first, establish an eLearning team/committee, to spearhead the rollout and oversight of the eLearning project in the school. This committee should be championed by a member of the senior management team. Other stakeholders should include ICT personnel, teachers and a representative from the student body. Allow teachers to volunteer for this role over simply choosing them. It’s also best to have people on the team who either have the knowledge or desire to acquire the knowledge.
Knowing what features to look for when shopping for eLearning platforms as well as how much your budget can allow, are very important. Review your curriculum/ subject/ syllabuses/lessons and try to get a better understanding of how you would best deliver them online. What features would you like to have on your eLearning platform(s), to help you effectively deliver lessons online?
Key questions to ask when choosing an eLearning solution.
- Scalable – Can the number of users increase significantly without affecting its effectiveness?
- Adaptable – Can you modify the eLearning platform to meet your school’s teaching/ learning requirements?
- User Friendly – Is it easy to understand, navigate and enjoyable to use, while still offering a quality service?
- Feature Rich – Does it have the features you are looking to incorporate, such as; integration, tracking & reports, automated evaluation, gamification, cloud content and virtual classroom
Teachers need to have proper training in the use of the eLearning platform, as their competence in its use, will have a direct impact on the students that they will be teaching. However, it’s worth noting that experience in the use of an eLearning platform is also hugely influenced by how much time and dedication a teacher commits to learning it.
Ensure that there is an effective peer review structure in place. This is to ensure that the work that is being prepared has been quality checked. Remember, there will be more eyes on the work being sent out. Make sure to check whether the content is well structured, and the available online teaching aids are being appropriately used to effectively support the lesson. For example, are links to video clips and chats correct and working, is the work clear on the screen, is there something else that could be added to make the lesson more effective?
Ensure there is a good mix of delivery methods being used. Wherever possible, try to include live sessions, as students still need to interact with the teachers and their peers.