What everybody should know about online learning environments

Creating blended/online learning courses is now easier than ever, but there is a growing problem. The diversity of resources now available will actually hamper effective teaching, and thus learning, in the near future.  Blended learning requires an effective delivery system. A web based solution that allows courses to be structured effectively, is easy to use and has a range of educationally useful features is vital.

Products that meet these needs have evolved rapidly, and have grown well beyond what used to be called Learning Management Systems (LMSs). Some are probably better described as Online Learning Environments (OLE).  Online resources have also proliferated and matured. There are now many, many useful resources to extend and supplement learning. These range from simple resource repositories to adaptive learning sites that shape themselves to the needs of the individual student.

Hence the problem. Organizations that use a range of these specialist sites usually have to duplicate their management of students and teachers; they have to create independent logins and passwords for each student and teacher, and also have to organize these users into courses or classes. This is not a problem from a vendor viewpoint.  This situation must be fixed, before it grows too large.

There are solutions. The author uses an OLE that allows integration of external resources. Several resources have been integrated already.  Integration removes the need to manage multiple accounts for users. An LTI-compliant online resource automatically creates user and course/room online areas on the fly. Administrators do not create/manage external user accounts. Users no longer need to remember a series of user names, passwords and URLs; everything is automatic.

As educators, our goal must be to develop an Integrated Online Learning Environment (IOLE), where a range of web based resources can specialize, and yet share data seamlessly.  It is only then that blended/online learning systems will reveal their full potential.

Read the entire article by Peter West on eSchool News at http://www.eschoolnews.com/2014/01/28/online-learning-environments-415/

Image Credit:
http://www.eschoolnews.com/2014/01/28/online-learning-environments-415/
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