6 Ways to Optimize Your Online Education
Online education in higher ed has many benefits. Being accessible anywhere at any time is one of the biggest. But studies also show that delivering effective online education improves retention and graduation rates because students earn their degrees faster, save money on tuition, and start or return to work sooner than the average college experience of four to six years. Online education also appeals to a wider variety of audiences, such as older students who might be intimidated by a traditional classroom setting. And online education training can increase revenue while reducing operating costs.
However, those same studies also found that to reap benefits like these, you have to do online education right. That includes:
- Defining a digital learning strategy
- Choosing the right system for delivering online education
- Designating a digital learning champion
- Getting educators on board
- Offering a variety of formats
- Supporting students
Let’s take a closer look at how each of these steps can help you optimize your online education and make your training a success.
1. Define your digital learning strategy
Start with knowing your goals. Maybe you want to boost graduation rates or increase your revenue. A well-defined strategy can help you manage and meet multiple targets, even if your goals are unrelated.
It also helps to know your audience. Today’s students are more tech-savvy than ever before. That’s great news for you because you won’t need to worry about getting them to buy into taking courses online. But that also means students will have higher expectations for their learning experience. They’re expecting courses that look and feel modern and, most importantly, work seamlessly on all of their devices—laptops, tablets, and phones.
2. Choose the right all-in-one system
Many of the platforms for hosting online courses, known as learning management systems or LMSs, are old-fashioned and clunky. They’re not easy for instructors to use. And they were never built for use with mobile devices, which means students don’t enjoy using them either.
As you’re considering your options for delivering online education courses, you’ll want to look for a platform that’s simple, modern, and mobile-friendly so you lower the barriers for instructors and learners alike.
An all-in-one training system like Rise is one option you’ll want to consider. You can use any modern web browser to create Rise courses. That means there’s no costly, complicated software for educators to install and learn. Even better, students can take Rise courses anywhere at any time, from any device—there’s no need to host your published courses on a finicky LMS for Rise courses to work.
Rise makes courses easy to create, enjoyable to take, and simple to manage. With Rise, instructors can create a custom course from scratch in minutes, or they can quickly adapt a sample course or customize a course template. No matter how they choose to build courses, there’s a lot of room for creativity. And Rise has built-in tracking and reporting so instructors can monitor their learners’ progress.
3. Designate a digital learning champion
It’s always nice to have a cheerleader—and that’s exactly the role that a digital learning champion plays on your team. Someone enthusiastic and knowledgeable about digital learning can help calm fears and convince skeptical teachers and students that the approach really works.
Not exactly sure who this person is? Think about administrators with authority to make change, or a department head who has personally experienced the benefits of digital learning. Another advocate to consider is someone with data expertise who can track metrics and help you adapt your digital learning strategy based on results.
4. Get educators on board
Instructors are at the front line of education, and their experience and opinion about how to engage students are invaluable. Some will be excited about going online with their courses, but others will feel overwhelmed or skeptical. To reassure them and get them on board with your strategy, acknowledge their concerns. Also, ask for their involvement in decision-making at every step—from selecting the kinds of courses to start with, to choosing the best ways to communicate and collaborate with learners.
You’ll also want to equip your instructors with the right apps that make it easy for them to migrate in-person classes to online courses. Here are a few ideas to explore:
- Give instructors access to Rise. Rise has little to no learning curve, so your instructors can start creating online courses in minutes with easy-to-use features like customizable sample courses, prebuilt lessons, and course templates they can quickly customize.
- Encourage individual creativity. Most instructors enjoy the chance to put their own spin on a topic. With Rise, they’ll find it’s easy to create custom courses. That’s because Rise courses come together with the use of modular layouts called blocks. Blocks come in many different flavors—from text and images to interactive blocks for reinforcing key learning points. And blocks can be easily customized with your instructor’s content and media. Instructors can even browse the built-in, ever-growing content library for free-to-use images, illustrations, and video.
- Foster a culture of collaboration. Rise supports collaborative authoring so that educators can work together on creating a course. You can also encourage your educators to share tips and tricks that ignite a passion for learning—which is what higher education is all about.
5. Offer a variety of formats
Blended learning is a strategy that usually involves a mix of online and instructor-led classroom courses. It can be a great approach for structuring a learning experience for your students since it gives them an easy way to absorb general information on the subject, while also preserving valuable classroom time for in-depth discussions, labs, or other hands-on activities.
With Rise, your instructors can create courses using an array of instructional methods. For example, they can illustrate a process with a labeled graphic block with markers that include video. Or, they can easily add a FAQ to their lesson, or drop in a thought-provoking knowledge-check activity. Truly, there are so many different ways you can mix different block types to convey knowledge, support retention, and engage students with challenging activities that make online learning fun and effective.
6. Support students
If you’re serious about creating effective online education, make it count. Provide learners with digital performance support like stand-alone quizzes, practice exercises, and online study guides. Rise allows you to create all of these kinds of assets and more. Similarly, if students have questions, encourage them to connect with tutors and coaches through online apps like Zoom that allow screen-sharing and face-to-face video meetings. All of these strategies will help students feel supported as they embark upon online learning.
The bottom line
Online education, when done right, is just as effective as in-person classroom courses. Whether you’re just venturing into online education or ready to commit your entire budget to online learning, these guidelines can help you optimize your approach to achieve the best possible outcomes for your students and instructors.