Before highlighting the advantages of online learning and how it improves outcomes, I want to emphasise that the circumstances that improve online learning are important, they include;
Once you have selected the right digital course and rolled out adoption the real learning can start.
Here are 3 ways online learning can improve learning outcomes for students:
In a classroom, student learning is synchronous. Students taught in real time tend to go at the pace the teacher sets – all working on the same activity, at the same pace. Lockstep is also experienced with online video sessions or online lectures where the students are expected to login at the same time.
That’s why at Klik2learn we differentiate between online learning and digital courses. Any course taught synchronously whether in a classroom or online can be frustrating for more advanced students, whose motivation may drop if they feel held back by those that need more direction and guidance from a teacher.
A key advantage over traditional teaching methods is that students learning online can progress at their own pace. Students can repeat, as much as they like, forge ahead, extend their learning with the reference tools provided and explore supplementary resources.
As one of our customers said, “the real joy is flexibility, your students can login and progress through the course, from any location, on any device at their own pace.” A digital course which allows students to progress at their own pace, on any device, at any time and in a place of their choosing can result in faster completion rates.
We ran an experiment in the early days to see how fast we could get students through an SQA qualification. They did it in 3 months while holding down jobs. It would have taken them a year part time at college.
Now, we’re preparing international nurses from all over the world for the Occupational English Test giving them the flexibility to progress through the course when and where they like, in between shifts, juggling child-care, and as they travel to work on the bus.
Thinking of my own experience as an English language teacher, some students will fall through the learning net. No matter how hard you try to engage every student in a classroom, the class environment doesn’t suit everyone.
Older learners can be reluctant to ask if they don’t understand and to speak if they’re not sure how to pronounce words. They can nod and smile at the back of the classroom, but make little real progress in reading, listening, writing and speaking.
Online learning using an asynchronous digital course with full reporting for both the student and the tutor means no student gets left behind. Tutors can see when a student has logged on to complete an activity, how long they’ve taken and what modules they have completed. Progress is measured and reported at the touch of a button. No more manual reports.
That kind of granular detail on individual students is invaluable for teachers. It means they can intervene at the point of need with the appropriate level of support. Students who have struggled with a particular activity can be offered additional help and resources. Similarly, students that are progressing well and flying through the course, can be challenged and stretched.
Of course, tutors may initially resist the idea of a ‘digital course’ fearing it will make them perhaps literally, redundant. The opposite, is in fact true. A good digital course can do a lot of the heavy lifting, but it doesn’t replace a teacher’s skill in responding to students individual needs, analysing their problems and offering expert guidance.
A digital course underpinned by data analytics provides the information teachers need to deliver targeted and personalised interventions. They can improve learning outcomes by targeting support for the students who need it most.
Instead of doling out the same paracetamol to every patient for every ailment, they have the x-ray to provide precision interventions that have more successful outcomes.
Online learning is not converting lectures or replacing the classroom with a Zoom conference. Personally, I can’t think of anything more off putting for students than being forced to stare passively at a screen for a whole hour – and in that situation, teachers tend to talk too much.
Our digital courses combine teaching methodology with interactive games that make learning something as complex as a new language fun. Our goal is to make the learning seem, to the student, a by-product of the digital games.
Klik2learn’s team of teachers, instructional designers and developers build digital courses based on hundreds of individual games and activities. Of course, a tutor can go into the course overview and see the learning outcomes, topics, modules and how a student is expected to progress through the course.
For the student it’s more important to us that they achieve the learning outcomes. The students don’t have to see the methodologies used, or the traditional syllabus, they just login and start playing online. Their achievements are logged as they progress through the course, activity by activity and module by module.
For the current swipe screen generation, learning through playing games can improve learning outcomes. At Klik2learn, we are driven by the goal of making learning fun. That’s why I got out of the classroom and started building our first digital course, Journey 2 English, over five years ago. The digital course had been independently accredited by Scotland’s national awarding body the SQA and the CPD. In fact, every student that completes the digital course is awarded a certificate from City & Guilds.
It’s taken a long time, but educators and policy makers are now waking up to the power of digital courses to improve learning outcomes. Far from being inferior to traditional teaching, which has not changed in the last 600+ years, online learning is perhaps the most powerful tool teachers have to engage all their students and actively intervene to improve learning outcomes for all.