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Lifelong Learning Support – A New Challenge for Higher Education

The concept of lifelong learning is strongly promoted by various organizations and individuals as a complement to the emerging knowledge-based society and the variety of social, economic, and educational changes. It is not a surprise that higher education institutions are expected to get actively involved and play an important role in the establishment and the delivery of lifelong learning opportunities.

Within the context of lifelong learning, new educational objectives should be addressed which include not just personal development but also social inclusion and economic growth. Lifelong learning support is seen as a major challenge for Higher Education Institutions because of the necessity to adjust traditional educational processes to the new requirements.

The interpretation of Lifelong learning concept

There is a variety of interpretations connected to the concept of Lifelong learning which attempts to cover a wide scope of learning opportunities it involves:

  • A strong emphasis on the fundamental value of education and learning;
  • Open access to learning opportunities;
  • Recognition of learning in diverse forms;
  • Learning throughout the lifetime;
  • A diversity of modes and methods of teaching and learning;
  • Recognition of the importance of the learning process;
  • A shift from teaching to learning, and
  • Strong emphasis on learning on demand.

The concept listed above highlights the variety of learning modes, styles, and pedagogical approaches which define the fundamental values of lifelong learning.

Educational values and Lifelong learning objectives

As expected, the existing support for Lifelong learning by Universities and colleges is not satisfactory; there are considerable gaps between the expectations and the actual implementation of the programs and courses addressing the needs of the lifelong learners. It seems that Higher Education can’t find the right way how to accommodate the different and sometimes contradictory objectives of lifelong learning.

For example, it is a challenge to accommodate such objectives as enhancing democratic values, providing equal opportunities, and developing human resources to respond job market requirements, globalization, and economic competitiveness. These dual objectives don’t go along with the traditional educational values in pursuit and dissemination of knowledge and truth.

Another challenging task is related to the necessity to change the program structures and curriculum design to meet the specific requirements of lifelong learning. Lifelong learning opens more learning opportunities for different categories of learners from different social, cultural, and educational backgrounds. It also means that lifelong learners can learn from a variety of resources, diverse fields of study, including personal work experience.

The question is how to evaluate informal learning and what is the basis for exemption of students from the certain parts of the degree program? Some universities in Europe have piloted different exemption approaches and accumulated certain experience in solving these problems. But we still don’t have a common methodology regarding the evaluation of informal learning.

What is expected from Universities?

It seems that universities need to replace traditional approaches to dissemination of knowledge with multidisciplinary, dynamic, and temporary forms, which include the recognition of work-based and experiential learning by awarding credit points and exemptions.

This will require universities to focus on the development of programs which are required by learners or their employers. Universities have to build a close relationship with industries and work with employers to ensure that learners are getting current knowledge and skills which are aligned with the industry requirements. Universities will need to put more efforts to improve their communication and cooperation with the business environment and external stakeholders. It will help to produce educational programs for all categories of learners which will meet the requirements of the fast-changing environment.

From the pedagogical respective, universities must promote the action-oriented (active) concept of knowledge when learners will be able to understand the personal learning process (learning to learn) and identify learning needs and progress status. Universities can’t rely anymore on the traditional offers of programs if they plan to succeed in the future.

New roles for teachers and learners

When it comes to lifelong learning, the teacher’s expertise in the specific area of studies is important, but not sufficient to manage the learning process successfully. The new forms of learning such as online delivery, active learning or flipped classroom learning require the ability to convey how the knowledge can be applied to solve real world problems. It means that along with the subject knowledge, students should learn problem-solving, decision-making, collaboration, communication, negotiation, and team-work skills.

Because of the variety of learning opportunities offered to lifelong learners, teachers and instructors are having more responsibilities than in the traditional settings. Apart from subject-matter knowledge and skills, they must support learners during the study process by:

  • Providing detailed and constructive regular feedback on learners’ progression;
  • Participating and moderating discussion forums;
  • Helping learners to make plans for improving learning results;
  • Offer individual mentoring sessions and encouraging students to study.

Obviously, all this will require some additional skills:

  • Good communication and negotiation skills;
  • Problem-solving skills;
  • Patience and tolerance;
  • Positive and enthusiastic approach to the teaching job.

It is not a secret that in the traditional learning environment, some instructors and teachers are neglecting so-called “soft skills”. Adult learners are usually more sensitive to communication style; they appreciate the positive approach, cooperation with instructors, and the flexibility of the learning process.

Supporting lifelong learners at university level

The concept of lifelong learning was introduced 40 years ago, but until the beginning of the 21st century it was mostly a subject for discussion. Our century has shown the necessity to adjust learning to the fast pace of changes, and it made lifelong learning critically important for every person who is planning to live fulfilling and successful professional and personal life.

There is an opinion that lifelong learning is creating a threat to universities by undermining their initial values and knowledge building approaches. The transformation is always a difficult process, it takes time to accept and implement new learning models, and start offering programs and courses which will accommodate lifelong learners:

  • Accept and recognize different modes of learning;
  • Develop new programs and courses to accommodate the requirements of the stakeholders and trends and developments in the economy;
  • Implement learning on-demand approach;
  • Focus on skills development which is in high demand in the industry;
  • Develop partnerships at the local, regional, national and international level to provide attractive and relevant programs to learners across the globe;
  • Apply the latest educational technology tools and platforms to enhance the quality of learning;
  • Train the team of skilled instructors who will be supporting lifelong learners.

Building a positive attitude – Important factor of the learning success

We know how challenging it can get at times to keep a positive mindset, especially if you are having a demanding job, family commitments, and community responsibilities. From time to time, we are getting overwhelmed, frustrated, and our mind is getting blocked. It prevents us from being creative, focused, and effective.

A positive state of mind is critically important for online learners because they are physically disconnected from their classmates and instructors. Some learners are naturally self-motivated and they can work successfully without help and support of other people; others need some inspiration in order to succeed in their studies.

In this post, we examine how to help students to stay inspired and positive during studies. Building a positive attitude towards learning is an important responsibility of teachers and instructors.

Finding sources of inspiration

For online learners, the virtual class can become a source of inspiration if the learning environment is interactive, supportive, and encouraging. Online discussions can support building such learning environment if the instructor sets the right tone and encourages learners to share ideas and thoughts.

Discussions help students to explore the variety of experiences and knowledge, to discover new perspectives and alternatives. Discussions and collaborative activities create a sense of partnership in the process of learning.

The course content also inspires students when it is delivered from the perspective of real-life cases and applications, and learners understand how theory is applied in real world. This helps to develop a positive attitude about the process of learning because they can realize what changes can be implemented at their workplace and in their lives based on knowledge gained during studies.

The great source of inspiration is self-belief. Instructors can build self-belief in students during feedback sessions, discussions, and tutoring sessions. It is important to find always some positive aspects of the students’ performance and show the ways of the further progress and improvements. It is easy to discourage your students by telling them how bad is their result, and what mistakes they have made. We should remember that the sense of progress and positive achievement encourage students to work better.

Inspiration maintains the positive attitude, ensures an enjoyable experience for learners, and motivates them to develop knowledge, skills, talents, and interests.

Encouraging a positive attitude to online learning

Without a positive attitude, learners have little chance to succeed in their studies. The positive attitude is a powerful factor which helps to stay focused and absorb information effectively, increases motivation and achievement levels, and makes learners more productive by retaining more information.

It is important that teachers and instructors know how to build and maintain a positive attitude during studies. There are several approaches which help to keep learners encouraged, focused, and interested in studies.

Empowering learners

Quite often, online courses are focused on subject-matter content delivery and ignore human touch, communication, and support. Using learner-centered approach in the course delivery will allow implementing personalized learning and address strengths and weaknesses of each individual learner. When learners are in control of their learning experiences, they demonstrate more active participation and positive approach towards the course. Teacher’s task is to praise learner’s achievements, strengths, and talents. This will also boost learners’ levels of confidence in their abilities to succeed.

Informing learners about the value of the course

From my personal experience, I know how important is to make clear to learners from the very beginning why they should take this particular course and how it will help them in their work or further studies. They need to understand how the acquired knowledge can be put into practice. It creates a positive attitude, interest, and motivation to study the content.

Eliminating stress and fear

Many of us grew up fearing failures – we thought it makes us weak, incapable, and hopeless. Fear and stress are positivity’s worst enemies. And it is teacher’s role to create a safe learning environment which encouraged learners to explore, experiment, and analyze. Learners should understand that errors help to learn, to develop skills, and to understand better the subject. Failures and mistakes are a natural part of the learning experience. Instead of accumulating stress and fear, students should learn to discuss the issues, analyze situations, and develop a plan to correct them. It opens opportunities for creative solutions, innovations, and positive attitude in a risk-free environment.

Offering challenging tasks – not overwhelming tasks

As a teacher, I have noticed that sometimes it is difficult to predict how a challenging task will affect our learners. We need to make sure that learners are not getting overwhelmed and frustrated since when attempting the tasks; it will make almost impossible to demonstrate creativity, innovations, and positive approach. My suggestion is to follow closely how students are approaching the task from the beginning. It is a good practice to divide the task into a sequence of smaller subtasks which reduce overload and can be easier managed by learners.

Offering options

Encouraging positive attitude, teachers can boost learners’ confidence by offering to take control over their learning. Teachers can provide learners with a variety of tools and resources, such as manuals, guides, instructions, external links, and multimedia. Let students choose which resources to use to achieve their learning goals. Offering several methods to complete online tasks will give learners the opportunity to expand their interests, develop problem-solving and analytical skills, and feel confident in their learning efforts.

Addressing emotions

Emotions can connect effectively our learners with the content of the course. Emotionally-driven learning generates positive attitudes such as interest, enthusiasm, and engagement. It can be done through engaging stories, interactive scenarios, and a reasonable dose of humor. These methods can draw learners’ attention, increase curiosity, and create positive feelings.

Making online learning enjoyable

If we want to encourage a positive attitude in our learners, the online course design must be inspirational, engaging, and interactive. Learners should be encouraged to play an active role during studies by participating in discussions, team projects, and other collaboration activities. They should become true members of the learning community, and feel free to share their experiences, skills, and issues arising.

A positive attitude helps to boost knowledge retention and build interest in further learning, and it creates a foundation of a successful lifelong learning.

 

 

 

How does future learning might look like?

The 21st century world is not compatible with the educational systems established in the previous century. Education must adapt to the 21st century by changing the approaches to teaching and learning, credentials and establishing a culture of lifelong learning.

The modern world is networked, multidisciplinary, and global. It requires dramatic changes in program design, content development, and delivery style. Future learning should embrace these requirements to prepare a new generation for the successful professional life.

In this post, we explore possible directions how learning should change to meet the challenges of our century. Some of these changes look achievable and practical, but some suggestions might sound very questionable at the moment, and it will require more time to understand, accept, and implement them.

“Flipped classrooms” – effective, achievable, and practical.

In my opinion, the “lecturing” culture should be diminished as soon as possible. I can see it during my classes, and I know that other teachers and lecturers are frustrated as well because we are not getting the response from the audience as expected. I have a feeling that after 15 minutes of a class time, students don’t hear us, their focus is on different things not related to the topics of studies. And it does not mean that students are careless and inattentive. It means that they can’t cope with the methods of teaching and learning we offer them.

Reports show that after attending the lecture, students can recall 5% of the information on average. Listening to the lectures has the lowest efficiency among other passive learning methods listed below:

  • Reading – the important and popular method of learning; learners can retain 10% of knowledge;
  • Watching video recording – this method is gaining popularity, and it helps to retain 20% of the knowledge;
  • Practical demos serve as illustrations how to perform certain activities, learners can remember significantly more– up to 30% of the information.

It looks like it is time to stop with the traditional lectures and move to a new learning approach called “flipped classrooms”. It means that initial learning should happen in “out-of-classroom” environment – online delivery using of the content supplemented by prerecorded lectures, demos, and short assessments.

Classes must be scheduled for individual mentoring, coaching, and feedback. During class time students can be involved in active learning: collaborative activities, team-based projects, practical sessions, and discussions. Active learning methods are more effective:

  • Group discussions help learners can retain up to 50% of the information;
  • Real life experience in the form of practical exercises and work placement is an effective learning method, and learners retain up to 75% of knowledge;
  • Teaching others based on personal real-life experiences is the most effective learning method which helps to retain up to 90% of knowledge.

Obviously, that passive learning alone does not produce great results. It is important to implement active learning methods during the scheduled classroom time. Active learning enhances knowledge about the subject of studies, and it also supports the development of communication, collaboration, and negotiation skills.

Giving students a chance to manage personal learning online is an important step which leads to a better time management skills and accountability for the learning success. The set of skills developed by applying flipped classroom method belong to the most important employability skills.

Moving from Academic Degrees to Microcredentials

The wonderful time when one degree served for the entire professional life is over. Dynamic and rapidly changing economic environment will require employees to study multiple skills from different professional areas. Skills and knowledge across multiple disciplines are already in high demand. Reports suggest that during professional life, employees will be learning 4-5 new skills from different areas.

The current trends are indicating that employers are not looking for the specific Academic degrees; they need people who have learned different skills by attending education and training courses and these courses can be considered as “microdegrees”. All these “microdegrees” can add up to a specific Academic Degree. It also indicates the importance of meaningful degrees with actual and modern skills and knowledge. Academic Degrees earned 30-40 years ago without evidence of regular upgrades have no value in the modern job market.

Employers value the students’ experience

Based on my observations, the majority of year 2 Bachelor’s degree students are having jobs. Employers are trying to get new employees with a very basic knowledge and help them to develop real-life practical skills required in the business environment. It seems that this is a popular approach taken by companies in developing the new workforce.

It also indicates that universities and colleges are not taking seriously enough the development of practical skills aligned with the industry needs and future trends. It is an absolute necessity for universities to expand learning opportunities beyond university lecturing halls and labs. Building a strong relationship with respective industries, involving industry professionals in conducting lectures and practical classes, allocation substantial time slots for work placement activities can prepare students for real work. Universities need to review and widen internship opportunities and consider them as a part of the learning process.

Do we really need grades?

It is a challenging question. We are so used to evaluate learners’ performance using certain grading systems. Does this way of evaluation serve as an encouragement? Not anymore. In most of the cases, it is not the indication of real achievements.

The countries with advanced education systems, the grading of student performance is done in the later stages of education. I am sure that these educational systems are taking care of developing real knowledge by providing opportunities for learning from the trials and errors without adding a pressure and stress on the learning process.

In the multidisciplinary world of education, the only proof of students’ hard work, dedication, and abilities are e-portfolios, which represent the collection of work accomplished by each student. These e-portfolios serve as an indication of student achievements and can be evaluated by faculty and industry panel on an annual basis.

What’s next?

In the next decade, the shape of educational institutions must change dramatically to accommodate requirements of the future learning. An important aspect of the quality of future education will depend on cooperation between industry and academic institution. Modern workforce needs to be focused on lifetime learning and skill upgrades to adapt to the rapid changes in professional areas.

 

Right time to become an online teacher – online education and training sector is growing

It seems that online education and training is getting ready for a new cycle of growth and development. It feels like we are not reaching students’ attention. Currently, I am teaching several university courses using the traditional in-class methodology, and my personal observations I can summarize in a few statements:

  • Traditional methods have not been working since students are not used to perceive information in the way we deliver it in the classrooms;
  • Students expect knowledge to be delivered using multiple technologies;
  • They have a short attention span and they can’t focus more than 15 minutes (at maximum) on the lecture;
  • Content should be interactive, engaging, and delivered in small portions.

As a result, the majority of students don’t perceive the information, and they are losing interest and focus by getting disrupted by different things.

I have spoken with my colleagues about their frustration and dissatisfaction with the results of their efforts. But it seems that the best option for us is to expand professional teaching skills and become an online teacher.

The old teaching methods do not match to the audience’s profile – this is our problem. The audience’s profile is formed by 21st century environment, and we can’t turn the time backward. It means we need to change our educational systems to meet the requirements of the Millennial generations.

Many students are intuitively looking for a mode of education which respects their personal freedom by offering them the flexibility to maintain personal learning schedules.

Online education opens opportunities for teachers

But the quality of online courses is composed of 2 factors: quality of courses and quality of teaching. Good online content requires great teachers. Online teaching shares several features with traditional in-class teaching, but it also requires specific skills. Like in the classroom teaching, every student who takes online courses deserves a highly qualified instructor.

Those teachers who have classroom-based teaching experience can expand their skills and knowledge by enrolling in online courses. Teachers can take online courses or modules to meet professional certification requirements while others can select topics to maintain their professional growth.

Reports are showing steady growth of teaching positions for online classes. It applies to all levels of education. It is expected that many adults will also join college and university online courses and programs to improve their career prospects in the rapidly changing economic situations.

Skills required for online teaching

Since online education and training are expanding, the difference in public and business perception of these two modes of education is disappearing. Core values of quality of teaching don’t change significantly in the online delivery, but the teaching methodology is quite different.

The most important online teaching skills are listed below:

  1. Ability to use online learning platforms. Online instructors and teachers should be familiar with Learning Management systems and Content management systems. They need to know how to use available tools to support online course development and delivery.
  2. Create online documents using Content Management tools. These documents are produced for students and should be kept accurate and current during the course delivery.
  3. Design, evaluate, and deliver online courses. Teachers should be familiar with the course design standards, determine the appropriate standard for the specific course, and demonstrate the use of course design and content standards in the content development and delivery.
  4. Communicate effectively course expectations. At the beginning of the course, teachers should communicate clearly course learning objectives, course delivery schedule, and the assessment schedule.
  5. Ability to use technology tools when designing the course.
  6. Incorporate external Internet resources in the course content. Online teachers should know how to locate, evaluate, and reference appropriate Internet resources and incorporate them in the course delivery using Content management tools.
  7. Maintain active and appropriate communication with students during an online course delivery. To ensure that students feel comfortable with the online learning environment, teachers should maintain regular, constructive, and supportive communication.
  8. Encourage and support student-to-student discussions and collaboration activities. When designing the course content, teachers should build in the course discussions and collaboration activities as a part of assessment strategies. During course delivery, online teachers should facilitate and moderate discussions. Implementation of collaborative tasks can be done through team discussions, group projects, and assignments.
  9. Providing regular feedback on students’ progress. It is very important to monitor student progress and inform students regarding their performance. The regular analysis and clear indication of the students’ performance status can help them to overcome some learning challenges. Teacher’s advice is very important; students need to know that teacher is present to help, advice, and support.
  10. Provide course material according to the delivery schedule.
  11. Provide some technical support. When technical problems arise, teachers should be able to advise students how to resolve some minor issues. Usually, the issues are related to the functionality of online platforms.

Advantages of the online teaching profession

The list of skills listed in the previous section might look overwhelming for new inexperienced candidates. But the reality is that skills can be developed by attending some online training courses which are developed to train online instructors.

The below list states that online teaching opens new career opportunities for many people with different backgrounds, experiences, and expertise areas.

  1. The online teaching profession is open to everyone. If a person has strong skills in any area (photography, cooking, graphic design, etc.), he/she can teach others who want to learn more about the specific area. Many experienced and successful online teachers did not have any teaching experience initially.
  2. Online education and training industry is growing steadily. It is still the right time to start with teaching online courses. With growing numbers of new online learners from around the world, the job market for online teachers and instructors holds many vacancies.
  3. Teachers can develop personal online courses. It opens additional opportunities for online teachers to create a business by hosting personal online school.
  4. People are prepared to pay for online courses. Previously, there was a concern regarding the availability of free online resources; it means that any person can learn about any topic without paying for it. But the fact is that most of the people are prepared to pay for already collected, well-designed and well-structured content supported by teacher-led delivery instead of wasting hours searching for required information.
  5. Opportunity to contribute to the global educational process. Education is helping to make our world a better place. Online teaching gives an opportunity to stay connected with a worldwide audience. It helps to build our knowledge and understanding of different cultures and traditions.

Online teaching is open to new talents

Experienced and knowledgeable educators have always been the key to educational success, and this is also true in the online education and training. Most of the successful teachers are just normal people who wanted to share their knowledge. And some of them are making 6-figures each year, and any of us could be next.

If you are interested to start learning about online teaching, don’t delay. Click on the link below, join online course “Learning to Teach Online” offered by Coursera.
Career skills to jumpstart your future.

 

Technology Impact on the 21st Century Job Market

Major changes have taken place in the job market over the last few years. There are several factors which play important role in restructuring the world of work: demographic changes, media, technological advances, and economic systems. In this post, we examine technology impact on the 21st century job market and discuss possible solutions which might help future employees to stay fit in the workplace.

Recently, we have seen many technological advances and their impact on the economies, and demographics of the society. Job market absorbs all the changes caused by the technology intervention and presents a new set of requirements to the potential job seekers.

Automation is reaching non-routine jobs

When we mention automation, the first thing that comes to our mind is the substitution of humans by machines in routine operations: manufacturing lines and procedural re-occurring tasks. This has changed recently, and automation is expanding to non-routine tasks.

With the development of Artificial Intelligence solutions, several sectors such as banking, customer services, and even counseling services can be taken over by machines. It is predicted that artificial intelligence can do equal or better work than humans in such area as retail sales, border patrol, and law.

Many are worried about jobs which will be left for humans. Will we have enough jobs for a new generation of employees? What needs to be done to secure these jobs?

Actually, automation does not cause higher unemployment rates. As machines take over simple and routine tasks, employers expect more complex and creative performance from their employees. Reports suggest that employees of the 21st century should demonstrate collaboration activities, abstract and systems thinking, complex communication, negotiations, and the ability to successfully perform in diverse environments.
Previously unknown jobs titles started to appear in the job market listings

Technology expands working environment

New technological solutions help to control workers performance from several perspectives.

Technology allows working remotely having flexible working schedules. Time and space issue is not critical anymore. Many companies allow workers to set their own schedule, focusing on the results of the performance.

Social media is spreading its impact on the workplace and the job market in general.

Social media is considered as a valuable tool for:

  • Finding a job;
  • Finding a candidate to fill in the vacancy;
  • Monitoring work output;
  • Performing some job-related tasks.

Meanwhile, we have to take into account several concerns related to social media use:

  • the protection of the employees’ privacy;
  • the protection of the employer’s reputation; and
  • keeping trade secrets.

Millennials are entering the job market

Another factor which re-enforces the use of technology is the Millennial generation which is entering job marker staring as from now. According to the reports, in 2020, over 36% of the workforce will consist of Millennials, and it means that the workplace is facing the collision of generations, and at the same time, it will develop a more diverse structure of the workforce.

Millennials differ from the previous generations:

  • they look further than just a job stability and employment benefits;
  • they need to have a strong sense of their part in the strategical development and planning;
  • they prefer to see the ‘bigger picture’.

Currently, most of the companies are failing to satisfy the needs of Millennials. If companies struggle to develop a learning culture and to provide the mentoring and training for Millennials, this can lead to problems with the future growth and development.

To gain benefits from the potential of the Millennial workforce, companies need to incorporate tools and technologies to enable their productivity.

The engagement of employees should start with maintaining personal communication with them by using internal social platforms. Millennials’ approach working and personal life combines convenience, connectivity, and functionality – they prefer to learn and work online.

And the starting point is to provide access to the systems where Millennials can receive the training and mentoring. To help employees to succeed in the workplace, training content must focus on developing of technological and interpersonal skills.

If you are willing to start your training today, click on the link below and start your preparation for the careers of 21st century.
Career skills to jumpstart your future.
The important skillset that workplace trends bring to the urgent attention is data literacy which includes the ability working with and interpret data in the given context. Data are considered as the driving force behind the commercial decisions, choices regarding user experience, and all aspects of product and services life.

Importance of the skills related to data analysis and decision-making will increase significantly in the years to come.

One of the best opportunities to get training in data analysis offered by Coursera. Click on the link below and select courses and specializations which will provide you with skills highly appreciated in the modern job market.
Coursera Data Science

Education and training must prepare individuals to meet changes in the job market

Technology requires regular skill upgrades to match the workplace requirements.

Education and training sectors must take care of preparing individuals for new jobs by using technology which makes education and training available and accessible for every person anywhere at any time.

Since employees are expected to learn continuously, and it is expected that education must prepare people to become lifelong learners. Effective learning will not be possible without the transformation and diversification of online learning and training. Education and training systems must be adapted to deliver more flexible, open, adaptable, resilient, certifiable, and useful lifelong learning

Several important solutions need to be made regarding alternative credential. Mechanisms should be developed and implemented to allow learners to get formal benefits from the self-learning efforts.

Employers are looking for people with communication, leadership, conflict resolution, and motivation skills. Innovative thinking and practical skills in 3D modeling, 3D printing, Virtual reality, and data analysis are in high demand.

Another aspect of learning is about intangible skills and attributes such as emotional intelligence, curiosity, adaptability, and critical thinking. These skills and attributes needed to succeed in the modern world, and they can’t be taught to robots and machines.

Conclusion

It is obvious that the 21st century job market status is linked to the education and training industries. Learning is a compulsory requirement for employees to stay fit and efficient in the workplace. Technology impact on the job market through its intervention to different industries and businesses needs to be addressed by education and training sectors. New learning platforms, course design methodologies, and innovative teaching and learning approaches will be developed to support the new generation of employees.

 

Immersive Learning Environment – Modern Solution for Corporate Training

Immersive learning environment – is one of the new ways of content delivery optimization, and it is gaining popularity among different online training platform providers. It is expected that immersive learning will address the issues we are facing when using traditional teaching and learning approaches in online education and training.

There are several commonly known facts which I’d like to mention:

  • Within one hour, people usually forget an average of 50% of the information presented;
  • Within 24 hours, they forget an average of 70% of the delivered information, and
  • Within a month, 90% of information is forgotten.

Those of us who are teaching in the classroom environment have noticed that 90% of our learners will be disturbed by smartphones within every 7-10minutes. It means that for a couple of minutes their focus will be diverted from our delivery. The same is happening during online instructions. I suspect that learners are disturbed more often since nobody is watching them.

Failure to focus and forgetting what person has learned are the indication that there is something wrong (I’d say inefficient) with the content and the content delivery method. It means we need to look for the efficient pedagogical approaches to optimize knowledge retention of our learners.

In this post, we’ll explore the value of immersive learning and its impact on maximizing knowledge retention.

Immersive learning – simulated, controlled, and interactive learning environment

When we analyze what kind of content and delivery strategies are considered as the most successful, the following features are mentioned most often:

  • The content which can grab learners’ attention;
  • Learners can experiment and learn by completing practical tasks -“Learning by Doing”;
  • The content is offered in the most natural way of learning – playing games;
  • The content is always available to learners when they need to repeat some topics.

Ideally, we need to develop a methodology with will combine all these features.

Immersive learning encompasses the following features:

  • It uses a computer-based simulated environment to represent a real-life or imaginable situation in a graphically rich and dynamic environment;
  • Students are engaged in the learning process through interactive simulations and game-based applications;
  • Immersive learning provides support to an individual learner or a group of learners when working on problem-solving, developing, and enhancing skills;
  • It monitors student actions and responses to ensure the learning objectives have been met.

Immersive Learning does not replace the existing methodologies, but it enriches learning experiences and increases the effectiveness of training. It uses a technology that optimizes learning.

Immersive environments offer rich and complex content-based learning and help learners sharpen their technical, creative, and problem-solving skills. Immersive environments are rich and visual, learners tend to be highly engaged.

Games and Virtual Environments are the most important components of immersive learning. These components help to engage learners in a wide range of educational activities and contain features which help to train and educate.

Virtual Environments use online communities to support interaction between learners. Virtual Reality takes people to the real learning situations without such constraints as logistics and risks.

Immersive Learning Techniques

Immersive learning environments are constructed using a variety of techniques and tools:

  • Game-based learning,
  • Simulation-based learning, and
  • Virtual 3D worlds.

Immersive learning environment simulates realistic scenarios and environments that give learners the opportunity to practice skills and interact with other learners.

Immersive learning applies different techniques to enhance learning experiences:

  • Gamification,
  • Simulation,
  • Storytelling,
  • Microlearning,
  • Right to fail without hurting yourself or environment,
  • Experimentation and Learning by doing.

Immersive Learning changes the way learning happens. In an immersive environment, learners don’t play several disconnected games; they are engaged in one life-like scenario which has many components.

There are also some other creative ways to establish an immersive learning environment in online courses:

  • Use emotions to engage with students on a human level by sharing stories and examples;
  • Enable participation by encouraging students to share their stories and provide comments and suggestions regarding stories told by others;
  • Provide context and incorporate different perspectives on the story;
  • Don’t restrict students – let them have full control over their learning, and follow the directions they have chosen.

The Advantages of Immersive Learning

Immersive learning can catch learner’s attention and activate learning process better than other learning methodologies. It also helps to enrich students’ learning experience and increase the efficiency of training.

The benefits of adopting the immersive learning methodology include:

  • The ability to practice the skills and techniques of the real world in a safe environment;
  • Rich feedback support to help learners to be aware of their progress and performance results;
  • Guided rehearsals help to achieve mastery of techniques, methodologies, or behavior;
  • A realistic and engaging nature of the immersive learning environment helps to establish an emotional connection with the learning experience;
  • The simulation of the real-life environments builds interest and encourages students to work;
  • Immersive learning provides excellent opportunities to practice interactions and technical skills;
  • In the immersive learning environment, each student can receive individualized instruction and tasks depending on their progress;
  • Geographically dispersed learners can meet to collaborate, discuss, exchange information, and role-play in the virtual environment.

Reasons for slow implementation of immersive learning

There are several obstacles which prevent fast implementation of immerse learning into online course delivery:

  • Immerse learning is seen by many as a game and fun, and it is a reason why serious attention is not paid to its implementation – this perception will change with time;
  • The implementation of immerse learning is expensive since it is graphic-intensive which requires professional resources and puts some stress on the network bandwidth at the user end;
  • Immense learning environments are not culturally appropriate for some cultures on the globe;
  • The implementation of immense learning will require special training for online instructors to prepare them for navigation and learner support in the simulated virtual environment.

Conclusion

Immerse learning will lead the future online learning and training. Advanced technologies such as Virtual Reality, Simulation, and Gamification enhance the learning process and optimize learning experiences.

Some are finding the incorporation of this technology into learning, quite expensive and for now, the technology cannot be used widely. Nevertheless, immersive learning is a great strategy to achieve the learning and training goals.

 

The Future of Online Learning – What are our expectations?

Educational systems are undergoing the transformation which should lead to a close alliance with technology and quality improvements in teaching and learning. We expect that online education will use the benefits of the technology advances and new teaching and learning methodologies to make learning more accessible, personalized, and engaging.

I am hoping that educational reforms undertaken by many countries will not stop in the middle of the transformation and will be able to address major issues related to teaching and learning of the 21st century. If educational reforms will be successfully implemented, we are going to have a generation of learners which is creative, active, capable to make decisions, responsible, and intelligent.

Online education is not exempted from the transformation and implementation of new teaching and learning methodologies. It equally applies to content design, assessment strategies, and teaching methods.

The growth of online learning and training industry presents new challenges for educational institutions because of the necessity to expand their pedagogical expertise. The future of online learning depends on the implementation of innovative teaching and learning strategies, and the quality of the course content.

Moving towards Global Transparency and Accountability

The transformation of online education and training is driven by two factors: Global Transparency and Accountability of educational institutions.

Online education and training is a true implementation of education without borders. Learners from around the world are joining courses and programs offered by online providers without concerns regarding its geographical locations. I have taken several online courses and I can’t say for sure from which place on the globe these courses were running.

Because of the global nature of online education, there is an urgent need for a universal standard of course quality. We all know that academic quality differs from one institution to another. The international regulations for quality and consistency in online education might enhance institutional accountability for the online course delivery.

This will require educational institutions to implement tools which can enable the transparency of academic processes. Sharing academic analytical information and assessment strategies will be necessary for assessing the quality of courses.

Making personalized learning a priority

New pedagogical approaches in online education must provide opportunities for personalized learning which means that the learning process of each individual student will be driven by his abilities, learning preferences, and techniques. Such approach guarantees learners progress at his own pace and it will increase the overall satisfaction with the learning experiences.

Online learning and training are moving away from the one-content-for-all approach. The adjustment of the learning content based on learner’s profile is possible if instructors are equipped with intelligent analytical and monitoring tools. These tools collect data about learners’ progressions through the course and provide recommendations regarding the optimization of the content and style of delivery. These tools can identify the situations when a learner is falling behind and is not coping with the content, and it might require instructor’s help to overcome such learning hurdles.

The Value of Educators

One of the most important factors impacting student success is the instructor. Some people still think that with advances in online education, teaching profession will start disappearing together with hundreds of other jobs affected by technology intervention. In reality, technology will not replace the teacher – it will equip teachers and instructors with effective tools which will help to better engage and teach students.

The changes will be applied to the teaching methods and use of technology. Online teaching approaches will be based on the application of knowledge to real-life problems and collaboration with virtual peers. New assessment tools and academic analytics will help instructors to achieve higher quality standards.

Since online education is evolving into a personalized, consumer-driven model of learning, the teaching job will change as well. Experience in teaching and course design will not be sufficient to achieve the success. Online teaching encompasses advanced technology skills, excellent communication skills, collaboration, management, and analytical skills.

Instructors and teachers will become learning experience managers and they need to understand and use analytics to support personalization. New analytical tools will have artificial intelligence features and educators should know how to apply them to achieve the optimal learning result. I foresee that special programs need to be developed to train future educators which will develop skills needed in modern education and change the perception about learning and learners.

Learning through collaboration

Evolution of online learning is supported by new developments in cognitive sciences. Modern learning science admits that the process of learning consists of series of interactions between people and interactions with different resources in the environment. Based on this approach, students learn better when they collaborate, share, and discuss ideas, test and adjust developed models, and articulate their knowledge and experiences.

Another important feature of modern learning science is that it acknowledges the value and importance of technology and its role in supporting collaboration between virtual participants. The tools that support student-to-student and teacher-to-student collaboration are available already and they are making an impact on teaching and learning approaches such as video-conferencing, blogs, discussion forums, social networking platforms, and e-resources.

Delivery of online courses is driven by learning management systems (LMSs), and it means that collaboration tools should be embedded in LMSs to create true platforms for collaborative online learning and to offer students accessible and flexible learning environment.

To address learning preferences of Millennials, new learning methodology called immersive learning is becoming more common and effective. This new methodology is based on technological advances and focuses not only on the content of material but also on learning experiences. Immersive learning solves the problem of distraction during the learning process, implements microlearning approach, and offers engaging learning opportunities through collaboration and practice.

Several learning platforms have been built using immersive learning methodology to drive and measure learning, to inspire learners and deliver the effective result.

Conclusion

Technology is driving the transformation of education and its impact continues to grow. The effective combination of pedagogical sciences with technology innovations helps to create learning experiences that lead to the development of industry-specific professional skills and technology skills which have high importance in the job market. By creating the modern framework for online learning and employing modern technologies for course delivery, education institutions can improve significantly the quality of online courses and programs across the globe.

 

Teaching online courses – How to help virtual learners to succeed?

I have taught my first online course in 2003 – it seems like a century ago. To be correct, it was a blended delivery – 25% of the content was delivered in the classroom and the rest of the content was offered online. I must confess when teaching my first online course, I did not have a proper understanding how to manage the course delivery, how to support and engage my students, and I did not realize how many efforts it can take. I believe that the content I have created looked more than a simple digitization of the collected course material that was offered in the traditional classroom environment.

Since that time, we have accumulated a serious expertise in online course development and teaching methodologies. Multiple technology platforms have been developed to support effective online teaching and learning. Online education and training have become the fast-growing industry on its own than a response to the educational and training needs all over the world.

In this post, I’d like to focus on the role of online instructors, share lessons I have learned, and summarize some best teaching practices which can help virtual learners to succeed.

It is a demanding job – to teach online

I think that teaching online takes much more time than classroom teaching, and most of the time is spent on maintaining communication with learners: following up with the progress, providing feedback, moderating discussions, and motivating students. I think that online delivery can’t be compared with the classroom teaching; it is very different.

The preparation of the course, writing the online content takes a lot of time, and this is a very important phase, and it requires a complete re-shaping of the material: dividing it into the consumable partition, adding illustrations, images, and diagrams which can be understood and interpreted by learners.

I’d like to mention one more aspect of online learning – activities. We should plan online activities carefully since it takes much longer time to complete activities online than in the classroom environment, especially it applies to collaborative assignments and projects

When adding activities, we must choose the right ones which can be performed effectively online, otherwise, the time will be wasted and no results achieved. My experience shows that not every activity we run in the class will have the same level of success when implemented online.

Another important activity is a course delivery planning according to course outlines and delivery schedule:

  • Lesson sequence;
  • Lesson objectives;
  • Delivery content;
  • Activities associated with the lesson plan;
  • Assessment strategies.

We all appreciate the flexibility the online learning is offering to learners but in reality, the flexibility is also limited since we need to maintain balanced workload during each week. The learning content, related tasks, assignments, and activities with the respective deadlines are distributed through the semester on weekly basis. This is the main reason why the course delivery schedule must be communicated to learners before the beginning of the courses.

My experience shows that answering students’ questions in writing takes a longer time than answering the same questions verbally, and it is not just about typing, we must think how to formulate our replies so that our students can understand our messages correctly. I spent a lot of time marking online assessments and providing individual feedback in writing.

If I am planning student work on a weekly basis, it requires regular online presence, ideally – every day. One of the specific features of online teaching is that workload is distributed evenly through the semester. If the teacher is neglecting online presence, the job will be piling up, the quality of teaching and learners’ satisfaction will suffer. Delaying marking, feedback, or moderation of discussions is not an option in online course delivery.

Maintaining regular and timely communication with students

Communication is a key success factor in online learning. It starts with welcoming students and explaining them the content and the activities of the online course. It is very important to provide as much as possible information about course requirements in terms of assessments, estimated time for studies, and a general advice how to handle course workload on weekly basis.

It is important to make sure that students feel confident that they will manage online studies successfully. By maintaining positive and supportive communication, the instructor creates a comfortable learning environment which helps students to manage the course. Students must feel that the instructor is available to help when it is needed.

Timely feedback on students’ progress is vital for students’ success; it helps them to identify their strengths and weaknesses, seek help if needed, and improve their performance.

I have taken sever online courses myself, and in most of the cases, I enjoyed every bit of my learning experiences. I know how difficult it is to have the full-time job and study online. And I appreciate my instructors because they did follow closely with my progression, and as soon they felt I was falling behind for whatever reason, I received inspiring and motivational messages and offer to help. This is how an online instructor should support learners.

Variety of technology tools are available

These days, we have a variety of amazing technology tools that can be used for development and delivery of online courses. My approach has been to balance the use of technology and keep things simple as much as possible.

We all acknowledge the importance of multimedia elements but we can’t overload students’ focus with long videos, flashy animations, or simulations. In some cases, students might have difficulties to access them.

Technology should support learning, enhance its effectiveness, and our task is to define what technology we need to help students to achieve their learning goals.

Is online learning suitable for all students?

It is a challenging question. From one side, we are trying to promote online learning by highlighting its openness, availability, flexibility, and accessibility, but we must keep in mind that not all students can benefit from these advantages. And the reasons can be very different:

  • The person can’t decide if the course is meeting his learning needs;
  • Some people are not motivated enough to manage their learning and follow up with the learning schedules and deadlines, they usually lose interest to study as soon as they see lesson material, activities, and deadlines;
  • Another category of learners is lacking time management skills and have very good intentions, but they fail to stay in the course and comply with the deadlines;
  • Some students don’t feel comfortable working and communicating virtually with peers and instructors; it is not a common case for a new generation of learners but, we still have some individual cases.
    Instructor’s task is to help these students to stay in the course, provide timely all necessary information about the course content and other requirements, and motivate students to study. The rest is in learners’ hands

Conclusion

I think that online teaching helped me to become a better teacher. I have improved my communication skills, became more patient and supportive. I always ready to guide and advise my students if they get confused, lost, or discouraged.

The writing of online content is an experience on its own. Online content should be concise, clear, and professional. Online teaching provides opportunities to think carefully about our communication style and our answers to students’ questions. It also invites to think more about the course content and new and innovative ways of content presentation.

 

 

 

 

Importance of Data Analytics for Businesses – Start Learning now!

The impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on the global workforce could lead to the loss of more than five million jobs by 2020 . It has been highlighted that two-thirds of these jobs come from routine office administration and office management positions. The reduction of job positions is also predicted for manufacturing and production sectors. Obviously, urgent steps for re-training and upskilling of employees need to be taken to ensure that people will stay active and successful in the job market under demanding conditions of the technological developments and constant changes and adjustments.

Job market researchers highlight 2 types of job positions which are expected to become critically important to many industries: data analysts and specialized sales representatives. In this post, we discuss the importance of data analytics for businesses and explore opportunities to learn more about the subject and respective skills

Why is data analytics important?

With the help of data analytics, organizations identify new opportunities which lead to smarter business decisions, more efficient operations, and satisfied customers.

The benefits of using data analytics are linked to different areas of company’s performance:

Improved customer services. Data analytics allow businesses to predict customer demands, plan business commitments, and meet customer requirements.

Better organized work with suppliers. Analysis of suppliers’ performance helps decide which suppliers meet company’s requirements, provides best business support, and the order delivery discipline.

Maximizing customer retention. With the help of data analytics applied to customer profiles and activities, businesses can identify customers who are likely to come back to do business. It helps to develop strategies for building long-term relationships with customers and optimize marketing investments.

Cutting down operational costs. Applying data analytics to workforce costs and staffing, companies can improve recruitment strategies and apply a flexible approach to staffing. It allows opening and filling in extra positions during high seasons and keep fewer employees when the business runs slower.

Optimized advertising. Data analytics can be used to assess the content and positioning of all advertisements, product images, and business website pages for their effectiveness and the result.

Improved product management. Data analytics can help understand which products are most popular depending on the specific regions, seasons, age groups, and cultural preferences. It will allow the company to manage deliveries of the required products to targeted customer groups during specific seasons.

Applying data analytics to different operational areas, companies can achieve amazing improvements and make business processes more efficient and effective.

If you are willing to learn more about data analytics tools and gain the skills, click the link below and join courses offered by Coursera:
Learn Strategic Business Analytics from ESSEC Business School on Coursera. Enroll today!

Strategic Business Analytics Specialization

Description

This specialization is designed for students, business analysts, and data scientists who intend to apply statistics to business contexts. Specialization requires learners to have some background in statistics, programming skills, and understanding of databases and data analysis techniques such as regression, classification, and clustering.

Courses cover a wide variety of analytics approaches in different industry areas. Learners engage in hands-on case studies which reflect real business situations. Provided examples include predicting and forecasting events, customer segmentation, and calculation of customer scores and lifetime value.

This specialization also teaches how to effectively present analysis results to stakeholders. The third and the fourth courses are designed in partnership with Accenture, one of the world’s best-known consulting and technology services companies. Courses provide information about applications in a wide variety of business sectors, including media, communications, and public services.

On completion of this specialization, learners are able to use statistical techniques to develop business intelligence summary and present it to enable smart and sustainable business decisions. On successful completion of all four courses, learners earn a Specialization Certificate.

Created by: ESSEC Business School in partnership with Accenture

Learning approaches:

  • Online reading material
  • Prerecorded videos
  • Theoretical quizzes
  • Practical quizzes
  • Discussions
  • Peer reviews
  • Reflection

Join the specialization now. Click the link below.
Learn Strategic Business Analytics from ESSEC Business School on Coursera. Enroll today!

Course 1. Foundations of strategic business analytics

Duration: 4 weeks

Rating: 4.4 out of 5

With this course, learners have the initial overview of Strategic Business Analytics topics. Learners discuss a wide variety of Business Analytics applications: Marketing, Supply Chain, Credit Scoring, and HR. The course covers a variety of different data analytics techniques.

The course teaches how to produce convincing, actionable, and efficient insights. The course also presents different data analytics tools which can be applied to different aspects of the business. Learners develop four sets of skills needed to leverage value from data: Analytics, IT, Business and Communication.

By the end of this course, learners are able to approach a business issue using Analytics, qualify the issue, conduct relevant data analysis, and present conclusions and recommendations in an actionable and efficient way.

Course 2. Foundations of marketing analytics

Duration: 5 weeks

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

This course is addressing an important domain – Marketing Analytics which consists of such topics as text mining, social network analysis, sentiment analysis, real-time bidding, online campaign optimization, etc.

Learners will study techniques which will help them to answer the key Marketing questions:

  • Who are the customers?
  • Which customers should be targeted, and
  • What is the future value of customers?

The course covers the following topics: customer segmentation, scoring models, and customer lifetime value. These are the foundations of Marketing Analytics.

Course 3. Case studies in business analytics with ACCENTURE

Duration: 3 weeks

Rating: N/A

This course is a preparation for the capstone project. The objective of the course is to give learners a generic overview of what’s happening in this field. Learners explore how the analytical tools are used in real life projects.

At the end of this course learners will be able to:

  • identify the possible applications of business analytics,
  • reflect on the possible solutions and added-value applications that could be proposed for their capstone project.

The business cases will be presented by senior practitioners from Accenture; they present business cases from different industries and different countries.

The course will prepare learners for the capstone project of the specialization.

Course 4. Capstone: Create Value from Open Data

Duration: 4 weeks

Rating: 3.7 out of 5

The Capstone project is an individual assignment. Learners decide the theme they want to explore and define the issue they want to solve. Their case should provide data from various sectors. Participants are encouraged to mix the different fields and leverage the existing information with other datasets.

The Capstone Project is organized into 3 stages:

  • Deliverable 1 – the preliminary preparation and problem qualification step.
  • Deliverable 2 – learners need to present the intermediary outputs and adjustments to the analysis framework.
  • Deliverable 3 – learners need to present the final outputs and the value case.

Feedback Summary

This specialization has a wide variety of comments which actually reflect the complexity of the courses, and the necessity to have some preliminary knowledge.

Positive feedback

  • Very interesting course.
  • Good lectures & business examples.
  • Good knowledge acquired from the course
  • The course is really practical and presented from the business point of view
  • This course very helpful; it explains how those methods can be implemented in analyzing various business problems for strategic planning.
  • Excellent course and perfectly taught by the professor.
  • The course is easy to understand. With a very basic knowledge of R, one can understand a lot about marketing analytics.
  • The Course provided valuable insights in Strategy
  • Accenture cases were helpful.
  • It has improved presentation skills.

Critical comments

  • Needs real statistic knowledge to understand and see the potential of this course.
  • Simple, methodology is not enough, not practical, more focus on statistical tool data processing instead of insight analysis,
  • Not recommended to professionals.
  • Difficult to understand for a person without software/coding background
  • It is almost impossible to pass because the questions are not organized in a manner of constructive feedback.

Conclusion

Business data analytics is a very important area of ensuring business success and future development in the competitive environment. Having good data analytics skills, it is possible to identify issues, find and action improvements, and forecast business development models.

If you are interested in developing these important skills, click the link below and join the online courses.
Career skills to jumpstart your future.

 

Using Social Media in Online Courses – Does it work?

We know that social media platforms have become the most engaging environment across different age groups, professional areas, and interest categories. We can criticize the quality of communication and inefficient time spending, but we can’t ignore the fact of global engagement, and educators’ task is to find ways how to utilize different social media tools to personalize and enhance online learning experiences.

The use of social media in online courses is still open topic because educators did not explore all the opportunities the platforms hold to support online learning. Many of them admit that with the help of social media learners can effectively communicate with virtual classmates, ask and answer questions, collaborate and discuss. Using social media, prospective students can receive information about online courses and programs, clear the details about the content, communicate with people who attended different online courses and get their feedback.

In this post, we discuss some aspects of incorporation of social media into online course delivery.

Enhancing learning experiences

Alternative virtual classrooms

Online course delivery platforms support virtual class environment which allows students to communicate, cooperate, and provide help and support. In practice, quite often, online learners take an initiative and create an alternative virtual classroom using one of the social media platforms to facilitate informal interaction among classmates. I have noticed also that in the traditional classroom environment, students also create learning groups to communicate with the classmates on different issues. This way, students feel more comfortable when communicating, helping, and supporting each other. Using alternative virtual classrooms, students can discuss academic issues and maintain casual conversations. It helps to build healthy and friendly relationships since learners can know each other personally. I think it is kind of compensation for not having face-to-face communication.

Scheduling academic activities on social media platforms

During course delivery, instructors schedule group projects or assignments on social media. It allows students to know each other better and collaborate more effectively. Working in small groups, students don’t feel shy to ask questions, discuss academic issues, and look for advice.

Communication with industry experts

Learners can use a variety of social media platforms to communicate with industry experts; they can ask questions to get more insight into relevant disciplines, look for a professional advice, or learn more about the specific topic. Usually, experts are very supportive and willing to participate in the conversations with students.

Showcasing students’ work

Students may use different social media platforms to showcase their work: projects, case studies, and assignments. Building learners’ virtual professional profile is a valuable experience since they may get important feedback from industry professionals, or even job offers from the companies which may find students’ work interesting and relevant. The most popular platforms used for professional communication are LinkedIn and Pinterest. These are powerful tools which can be used to demonstrate learners’ interests, abilities, and experience.

Factors to consider when using social media in online courses

Social media offers variety of platforms which can help to implement creative learning solutions and improve student engagement and learning experiences. When the faculty is planning to use social media services in online course delivery, some factors need to be considered:

  • Before the beginning of the course, faculty must ensure in writing that students agree to create posts on the social media sites. If faculty does not get permissions from students, some of them might refuse to do posting when it will be needed. The special permission from students is not needed when faculty asks them to read or listen to posts from different social media sites.
  • Faculty must describe in details how social media will be used in the course syllabus. It is needed to inform students before they register for the course that they will be accessing social media sites. The alternative solutions must be offered for those students who are not willing for whatever reason to use social media platforms.
  • Faculty’s responsibility is to teach students and remind them regularly how to use social media for academic purposes. A new generation of learners has sufficient skills to use social media for personal communication. But they might not be aware how the content can be legally used in their projects and assignments. Students need also to learn how to protect their intellectual property on the Web.
  • If the use of social media is considered for the online course delivery, faculty should encourage students not to use real names to protect their identity .
  • Faculty should not use personal emails or personal accounts for teaching purposes. It is also important to provide the feedback to students through the learning management systems to avoid revealing of personal information to social media.
  • Security and privacy of information is an important aspect of social media platforms, and it usually causes many concerns. It would be practical to have always an alternative solution if things go wrong with the chosen platform.

Benefits of using social media in online courses

  • Social media allows learners to collaborate and communicate, to share their knowledge, experience, and expertise. Students can support and help each other by posting valuable links, share important tips, discuss issues, provide feedback, and work in teams.
  • Social media can provide learners with the latest information and developments in the chosen area by providing access to companies’ sites, professional profiles of lead specialists, and research groups and centers. Some social sites contain valuable tutorials which can be used to expand knowledge and understanding of the certain topics.
  • Course sites created on the social media platforms should allow learners to post their feedback, ideas, and suggestions. It will enhance creativity and learning experience, and it will also provide support to classmates through reviews, tips, and collaborative work.
  • Since modern learners are accustomed to social media, it is natural for them to use different media platforms for learning purposes, for communication and collaboration with classmates and instructors. Most likely, learners will enjoy academic activities and will stay engaged with learning topics and tasks.

Disadvantages of using social media in online course delivery

There are different reasons why faculty are hesitant to start using social media in the online course delivery. The most common reason is that social media can become a distraction for learners. Obviously, it can happen that a learner starts with an academic task on the social media site and ends up chatting with friends without finishing the assigned work. The best approach to avoid such cases is to create a very specific task with strictly defined deadlines. And it is a good practice to introduce an assessment immediately after the social media task. It will keep learners focused and engaged with the learning assignments.

Developing online course activities on social media platforms requires additional resources both human and financial. The use of social platforms must be closely monitored and supported which requires additional time and leads to extra pay. Some platforms provide specialized tools which might reduce faculty workload.

Another drawback of using social media platforms is exposure to practically unlimited information which may cause confusion among learners, and as result, they might lose focus, interest, and encouragement to study. Faculty can support learners by providing the list of the most important resources.

Conclusion

Social media is a powerful online learning support. It can be used to enhance the learning experience by offering:

  • access to additional and actual resources of information,
  • access to companies and professionals in the industry,
  • collaboration and communication tools to share knowledge and expertise, discuss important issues and provide feedback and reviews.

To make a success from the use of social media tools, all the activities should be thoroughly planned and documented.