How To Improve Collaboration In Online Learning

And how to bring people back from the dead when they’re dead.

Given the extreme disconnect between academia and the outside world these days, the rise of online learning is one of the latest, strongest trends in higher education. With the rise of colleges like Coursera, Khan Academy, and Venture for America, the burgeoning online learning community is opening up critical education opportunities to far more people. However, online learning is still relatively new, and gaining the acceptance of educators and outside companies alike is difficult, to say the least. Luckily, professionals from a variety of companies and organizations have taken it upon themselves to give online learning a massive boost. So, how are online learning resources improving these days? Are people still getting the help they need?

1. Improve faculty communication.

The biggest complaint about online learning efforts is the high staff turnover rate — one to two months — as faculty struggle to figure out how to incorporate online methods into their courses. According to Grist, programs like Coursera are figuring out a way to better communicate with course facilitators, with engineering assistant Craig Gibson writing a comprehensive list of suggestions for educators and other professionals to help keep course content fresh.

2. Improve self-driving and rapid feedback.

If there’s anything that can hold back online learning, it’s the lack of self-assessment techniques. A partnership between Coursera and Kaggle uses self-learning data to recognize improvements that participants need to make. All of these practices would be a massive boon for course instructors, as well as other individuals helping at the edges of the program to improve them.

3. Maximize ease of collaboration.

Thanks to its advantages of increased reach and flexibility, online learning has benefited a number of industries. Products like online classes and offline courses allow instructors to innovate new approaches to their classes — and it’s amazing to see the progress in distance education that schools like The Macalester College of St. Paul are having. Yet, the greatest gains in the online space haven’t been made just in form, but also in the wide-scale use of peer teaching. Knowledge can be shared better than ever before when online classes allow collaboration.

4. Increase acceptance.

The social dynamics of face-to-face learning provide a unique blend of expectation and openness that makes it tough to not like the people with whom you’re taking notes. Online classrooms don’t always experience this fine line, especially as many online learning programs currently blend varying degrees of both. A number of courses have sought to solve this by creating a process of promotion for student interaction. Even if you can’t attend class in person, the online community can play a key role in bringing that professor to your life.

5. Use new rules to create new opportunities.

Research shows that having more universities participate in online course programs have led to improved results, and they come with some surprising benefits. New rules to institutional enrollment policies are forcing schools to open themselves up to sharing ideas. For example, the University of Minnesota became the first Big Ten university to accept MOOCs for a full semester, and the College of Education is hoping to do the same. This open nature has also allowed course programs like this year’s Weh.1 to be widely supported — making it possible for these students to compete with their peers who have higher overhead costs, and thus buy in at a lower price.

6. Bring more disciplines together.

The ultimate goal of online learning for many instructors is to reach people from disparate areas who find themselves in similar situations — be it geographic location, educational backgrounds, or, in the case of a student abroad, a language barrier. Under this system, anyone can feel like a part of the group, providing that classes align with a certain vision. It also allows for team work, inviting extra mental stimulation and easy ways to help each other when the time comes. It’s especially great when part of the idea is to bolster international learning programs, bringing English language skills to people around the world.

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