As online learning becomes more a way of life it is important to remember some key tips.

#1 – Online learning is not a replacement for face-to-face learning.

In face-to-face learning there is eye contact, being aware of another person’s posture and tone, and the subtle cues to comfort one another and respectfully challenge one another — that empathy and intimacy flourish.

#2 – There must be an opportunity for video interactions by the learners

In one online program one of the students’ first online course activities was creating an introductory video to post to the class platform. Several chose a quiet space to film their introduction. However, one student chose the center of the library surrounded by peers, explaining, “I want them to see me in my surroundings!”

Through this exercise, the learning community learns about each other so they can build a more optimum online community.

Learners must have the opportunity to work together in discussion groups via Skype and Google Hangouts so they can connect and comment on the work they are doing. Even though they don’t meet in person, they’re getting to know each other online and making choices about what to post and share.

Here it is important for the community to clearly establish norms for appropriate discussion and sharing online.  This awareness, about the classroom community and the importance of building a positive culture for the class, is critical for an effective learning experience.

#3 – Make sure there is enough “Bandwidth”

This is essential to any success with digital learning environments. If there isn’t enough bandwidth for smooth wireless access, frustration builds. Overestimate what you’ll need so that you won’t have to backtrack and backfill.

#4 Find the right Learning Management System

There are any number of learning management systems available. Make sure you use one that is effective.

A Facebook-like user interface appeals to both students and teachers, and the discussion forums, calendaring, and direct messaging features are formidable.

#5 – Know your learning Style

Some learnings like teamwork and collaboration some do not. Some topics are best learning in a group setting, others are not. Know the difference.

#6 – Bring those that are not used to online learning up to speed.

Many learnings didn’t grow up learning in digital environments. They need clear, compelling examples that illustrate value.

#7 – Provide Effective Feedback

Throughout all learning, regular feedback loops are critical for making real-time adjustments and fixes. Hold focus group discussions with learners and use the feedback to modify and improve delivery.

Technology has the power to engage learners make learning more fun and effective.

So much of learning happens outside of the classroom; we need to connect all of our activities with learning to their overall community activities.

By emphasizing creative tasks, applications, and experimentation, we can ensure that learnings get the most out of an online program.

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