Here’s what you need to know about the best online learning platforms – Forbes Advisor
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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, e-learning platforms have grown significantly in popularity in recent years. Students at all levels, including those in corporate training, now rely on the Internet to deliver their teaching materials.
In this article, we will discuss how online learning platforms work and which platform to choose based on your needs.
What is an e-learning platform?
An e-learning platform allows students to access and assimilate educational content strictly digitally, in groups or individually. Online learning can take place live at set times, or it can involve pre-recorded lessons that students can follow at their own pace.
What are the different types of e-learning platforms?
If you’re considering taking an online course or pursuing another type of distance learning, there are a few different delivery platforms you need to familiarize yourself with first. Below, we’ll discuss three of the most popular online learning platforms and some of the best providers for each.
Learning destination sites
A Learning Destination Site (LDS) gives you access to a variety of courses in one place. Udemy, a popular LDS, offers over 185,000 video lessons on a range of topics. The following online learning platforms are also classified as learning destination sites:
- Coursera. A great option for people in the workplace looking to upgrade their skills or change careers, Coursera offers virtual courses, certifications, and degrees.
- codecademy. This online coding bootcamp offers comprehensive instruction for students who want to learn to code. Learners can choose from career paths and individual courses.
- Khan Academy. This learning platform specializes in online learning for children from kindergarten to eighth grade and also includes courses for high school and college. Khan Academy is free and offers a wealth of courses in subjects such as math, reading, computing, and social and emotional development.
Learning management systems
Learning management systems (LMS) are software systems used by companies and organizations for learning and training.
An LMS differs from an LDS in that it is not a standalone website. Rather, an LMS is a portal through which instructors distribute information that learners can access. An LMS can exist online or as installed software, and it can be paid or open-source.
Below, we detail some of the most commonly used learning management systems today:
- Chalkboard (traditional). Blackboard is an LMS that serves all grade levels. With Blackboard, teachers can create and share educational content. The provider also has an associated application.
- Canvas (traditional). Canvas is one of Blackboard’s main competitors. All Ivy League schools have adopted Canvas as their primary LMS. This rising platform is feature-rich and efficient.
- Moodle (open source). This robust learning management system is completely free. This works best for those who have some experience with the administrative tasks involved in setting up an LMS.
Learning management ecosystems
A learning management ecosystem can be thought of as a combination of an LDS and an LMS. These comprehensive learning platforms offer a variety of courses, but they are internal to particular organizations. This means that you cannot access an LME without being part of the organization to which it belongs. Large colleges and universities often use their own LMEs.
Methods of delivering e-learning
Instructors can deliver online learning through several methods. We’ll go over a few types of e-learning delivery methods below.
Video-based learning is learning from a video or a series of videos. This format is best suited for those looking for flexibility in their learning. Students can usually watch videos anytime from anywhere. This format combines speech, graphics and animation to provide a 360 degree learning experience.
A great example of video-based learning is YouTube, where viewers can watch tutorials for just about anything, from knitting to coding.
Online learning is not always asynchronous. With individual learning, students can work with a teacher or tutor in real time. This format offers more direct interaction with student instructors, allowing learners to ask questions and solve problems face-to-face.
Virtual classrooms, like those offered by most online colleges, are a good example of group learning. These classes usually meet at set times, during which a designated instructor leads the class.
Group learning courses often use other media, such as videos and pre-recorded lectures, to enhance the learning experience. Professors and instructors typically use LMSs to post grades, facilitate discussions, and track assignments.
Benefits of Online Learning Platforms
Online learning requires top notch time management skills and a great deal of self-discipline, and many students prefer to learn in in-person environments. That said, distance learning also brings many benefits. Here are some positive results of e-learning platforms:
Online learning often costs less than in-person instruction. Many colleges and universities offer in-state tuition to all distance learners, regardless of where they live. Likewise, studying online reduces costs associated with housing and transportation.
For aspiring tech professionals, online coding bootcamps offer a cheaper alternative to traditional degree programs. And open source learning destination sites allow anyone to dive into a topic that interests them, for free.
Flexibility and Convenience
Online learning often allows learners to study at their convenience. This makes it easier to maintain a full-time job while taking courses. It also means that students can take classes offered by out-of-state schools without having to travel or uproot their lives.
Options for every learning style
Online learning platforms offer something for everyone. For students who want the camaraderie of in-person classes with the convenience of distance learning, online group learning combines the best of both worlds. On the other hand, those who feel overwhelmed in group learning settings might prefer individual online courses. And learners with unpredictable work schedules who need a lot of flexibility can find what they need in video lessons.