Criteria of Effective Online Learning Environments
Online or e-learning earning has become a common option for people to further their education form the comfort of their homes. The education genre offers eager learners a wealth of benefits that position it as perhaps the most compelling choice when all things are considered. Above everything else, if it is the right e-learning environment, it can be very effective. What makes an effective e-learning environment? And what are the elements you should look for in an e-learning environment? For e-learning experts like Thomas Rollins teaching online requires that instructors understand how to utilize the foundations of the traditional teaching environment to best positions students to excel online.
Traditional Classrooms Have Been Very Effective for a Long Time
Traditional classrooms, where a teacher stands at the head of the class and students face him or her, have been the standardized teaching set-up for thousands of years. This is mainly because this style of teaching has been so effective. So an online approach would definitely do well to incorporate many of the core elements of a traditional teaching environment in order to best serve students.
The traditional class teacher uses the fact that he or she is in the classroom with students to provide an environment that must be recreated by the virtual instructor. This includes key elements that contribute to or enhance learning and unless intentionally added will not be present in the e-learning environment.
Key Elements for a Successful Online Learning Environment
Establishment of Clear Learning Outcomes – Learning outcomes are objectives the instructor sets for students about what they will be able to know or perform at the conclusion of the course. Each student needs to be clear on what is expected and then given the path and tools to reach that destination. This sets the proper tone for the course and gives students confidence that they are and will stay on track.
High Level of Support – It is vitally important to create a supportive climate for students. They should be encouraged to be constantly involved in class activities including asking and answering questions, and participating in online discussions pertaining to class topics. The instructor should police this constantly, and become more aggressive if participation is below expectations. Consistent supportive emails to the class that include specific references to questions by students and direct contact with those students who are not participating can go a long way. Mostly, it also sends a message to students that instructors are genuinely concerned about their learning.
Assessments and Feedback – Assessment combined with timely and constructive feedback should be a key part of the online classroom. By constantly assessing where students are in the instruction, teaching can be more closely tailored to students and students can be encouraged individually to pick things up if needed. This can be done on an individual basis away from the other students which will ease anxiety in students that are a bit behind. When there is an improvement in a student’s performance the student will realize that the instructor has a method for working on specific challenges the student is having and the student feels more in tune with the learning environment.
These basic foundational elements set the tone for effective online classrooms.