CuriouslyBored presents, reviews, and shares information about online learning, with particular focus on instructional design, the learner experience, and technology and tools for online learning environments. It is a platform for “learning about learning” and an opportunity to showcase innovative ways of engaging students online.
This is an exciting time for the online learning industry. We are in the midst of online learning’s “heyday.” With more than 6.7 million students taking at least one course online during the 2011 fall term, online learning represents the largest growth opportunity in the learning industry.
What was once a novelty is now a utility for educational institutions and corporate training programs alike. Even the most traditional educational institutions recognize that online learning cannot be ignored. Weather a massive open online course (MOOC), credit bearing online course or online training, the design and functionality of these courses significantly impact their success and the willingness of learners to return to the environment and the educational institution.
As an online learner, and a practitioner of instructional design, it is surprising how many instructors are unaware of the importance and pedagogical impacts of course design, particularly in the online environment. Successfully “taking a course online” does not mean recording an in-classroom lecture and posting it online. It is not simply course building. The way students interact with the instructor and each other is different online. The way students receive and interact with the material/curriculum is different online. The content is the same, but the presentation, activities and manner in which learners learn is dramatically different. Acknowledging the differences in these learning environments and intentionally designing for them is the difference between a successful online course and a flop.
Although the make up of online learners varies dramatically – higher education, home school students, corporate or institutional training, etc. – the central cornerstones of success, a side from curriculum, are functionality, user-interface, and course design. Generating equal interest in these matters among industry practitioners will help to attract more and more learners and secure online learning’s place within the industry.