Problems universities face when implementing e-learning curricula

 | By 

Chris Hutchinson

E-learning creates opportunities

Learning is going online more and more, which comes with a lot of possibilities, opportunities, and challenges. Just as with traditional learning formats, there is no one-size-fits all option, aside from Claned! What works for e-learning in a university won’t be what works for professional development, product onboarding, or language learning. Each has unique challenges to effective and engaging learning.

For example, in corporate trainings, how to organize and break information into small chunks so professionals can study in small time slots between other work obligations is a barrier to success. Meanwhile product onboarding faces the challenge of making material relatable and clear to a wide range of learners with different capabilities and prior knowledge.

Universities must stay innovative

Ironically, it is universities that face the most complex challenges when it comes to online coursework. However e-learning is actually an exciting new frontier for higher education. It’s an opportunity to adapt to modern student needs. In fact, the most common problems universities face come from misunderstanding how e-learning is not the same as traditional formats.

In order for e-learning to be successful, we can’t use the formats used in contact teaching and just make them available online. Online coursework is instead a paradigm shift in how we approach and present learning material. When designed properly it seamlessly manages many common pitfalls. With this in mind, let’s look into some common roadblocks higher education faces when it comes to successful e-learning. We’ll look at how understanding and adopting e-learning frameworks that support learning experiences which are better than traditional classroom and lecture hall structures.


Lacking student engagement

One of the most common challenges in e-learning is how to measure the level of student engagement. Massive dropout rates in MOOCs and low return and completion rates in online courses are cited as a failure of online learning. But it not the fact that this learning is taking place online that results in these low rates: rather, it is how the information is structured and presented to learners that is the problem. When learners access readings or recorded lectures alone online and then take a quiz or test, it should be no surprise they’re not engaged and lack motivation.

Learning as an engagement metric

We live in a multimedia world that lets us experience and interact with information in many ways, most more exciting than reading 50 pages on a screen which also gives you instant access to videos, podcasts, and social media platforms. All these have communities of individuals with common interests. Any course of study takes more focus and dedication than scrolling your feed and commenting on YouTube videos. And e-learning done well emulates our digital leisure and entertainment experiences. We offer a range of creative authoring tools and apps that integrate perfectly with Claned to ensure better engagement.

E-learning increases engagement

Adapting traditional course materials to new media formats is an easy way to build learner interest and student engagement. For example, we can reframe how we use papers and reports. These shouldn’t be abandoned, but thought of differently. Both can evaluate how well learners grasp ideas presented in TEDTalks or films, for example.

Who wouldn’t be overjoyed to write a 20-page essay about how Legally Blonde was ahead of it’s time?

It’s likely some of the highest rated instructors at your institution teach contact courses using these methodologies. And using Claned as your learning experience platform takes this to the next level. It lets instructors make any document interactive, so learners read collectively. It encourages them to add questions and comments directly into a paper’s margins, highlight key takeaways, and discuss materials together. This builds community around learning and creates opportunities for meaningful engagement with the material and other students alike.

Another easy way to boost student engagement is by using group assignments. Asking learners to work together provides opportunities for interaction and information exchange. This builds a sense of personal responsibility to contribute and helps them progress with their study. It encourages more meaningful interaction with information. Simple changes in how information is presented have effects that extend beyond boosting learner engagement. When engagement levels rise, so do other qualities like motivation and focus.

Understanding course expectations

Providing learners with a clear understanding of course expectations should not be difficult. Barriers to e-learning often relate to a lack of planning and consideration for students, who will have fewer synchronous opportunities to ask questions. Course designers, teachers, and professors should (and usually do) provide learners with clear instructions on how to proceed with learning materials and course expectations. However, gaps in these materials are often exposed as the situation arises in a live course and explained on a case-by-case basis.

We should circle back to the needed paradigm shift required when developing and deploying effective e-learning. When this is accounted for it becomes a simple thing to remember that instructions and expectations must be detailed clearly. Doing so provides learners with a sense of confidence moving forward, unburdened by uncertainty or confusion.

Student progress and intervention

Modern learning management systems provide more than a platform to distribute materials to students. They’re complex, powerful platforms full of features and tools that let instructors easily track learner progression. With Claned, an instructor can easily see who is progressing with materials and who is not, and reach out with appropriate interventions.

Perhaps the true issue here is training. Professors and instructors are experts in their fields, but their professional duties extend beyond churning out more publications. They require continuing development to keep up to date and do their jobs well. University administrators should develop mandatory comprehensive training programs for the technology used in their institutions so instructors and professors have the knowledge needed to effectively implement technology when teaching online.

E-learning is here to stay, and universities stuck in the dark ages demand heavy lifting that doesn’t prepare students for their careers.

Effective e-learning in a higher education setting shouldn’t be complicated. Most of the issues faced by universities in online courses are easily solved by adjusting perceptions of what e-learning is and how it’s done. Online learning ease, clarity and success follow an understanding that e-learning materials require different organizational structure than traditional classroom learning. There are so many new options, tools and possibilities to take learning into new spaces, inspiring and delighting the learner in the process. But the best accomplishment is the sense of fun that goes with e-learning done right!

Ready to help your university engage with e-learning that works? Book a demo today:

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