What Do Students Need In An Online Learning Environment? 2018

With thousands of courses available online each year, there are almost anything you can teach and do. In this picture from New York’s Google campus one can see the Tafner Lecture Theater.

Ethel Speight is a Student Navigator Consultant and a Community Outreach Specialist at College Moms through Parenting Institute. Now in the fifth year of her work with CNP, Speight has transformed the concept of web design from content to the data dashboard. With the amount of content needed to survive online, it is imperative that the student experience be evaluated and optimized. This user experience is what sets the learning experience apart from any other technology. CNP brings the best practices and expertise from their decade of classroom teaching into the new online world, using insights gleaned from students’ experiences.

“CNP has focused on educating schools and students about what online learning is and how they can make their experience as good as it can be. Other companies have tried to do this before, but because there were so many variables they didn’t always get it right. At CNP, we’ve focused on building a product that can work reliably and efficiently,” she said.

The redesign of the online learning experiences at many institutions has resulted in three major improvements:

1. The data dashboard is now an essential component. For example, if a student is enrolled in five seminars and logged in over several days, the dashboard will have kept track of the details: “At 11:30 pm, I have 15 more students enrolled in 5 seminars than I had at 9:30 am. At 3:00 pm, I have over 50 students enrolled in 5 seminars.”

2. Students can perform analytics. The student dashboard is updated on a real-time basis and can be customized to the user. In some cases, schools need to prepare a database of complete dates, classes, email addresses, and blogs. From the Dashboard, schools and students can conduct any of these searches at any time or have the student create their own search as needed. Using dashboards, students can find out their assessment outcomes quickly and easily. In addition, schools can quickly view the results for a particular set of student data across class sections to assess trends and identify growth areas.

3. Students are learning through videos and flashcards. A perfect example of how this technology has been integrated is a newly launched course that breaks it down into various learning levels. “A student who has clicked the ‘start’ button can instantly access various points in the course to complete that day. As they proceed throughout the week, each day becomes a step in the course, so they can progress through the course as it is designed. At the end of each day, there is an end-of-course evaluation form where students can access a grading chart for the course. By using videos and flashcards, the course becomes engaging enough that students want to learn more.”

With these three major improvements, the learning experience is completely transformed. With these tools, students who are actively engaged in a course will continue through to the end. Unfortunately, if they fall behind, it can be very difficult to get them back on track. With its various levels of engagement, the online learning tools allow students to graduate in an efficient manner. Through these tools, learners continue to gain valuable skills and knowledge that can result in better performance down the road. The impacts that this type of learning makes on students’ lives is a primary consideration for CNP.

“Online learning is a critical component of any classroom-based learning program. Schools have to look for the best ways to use this technology to improve student outcomes. In my opinion, online learning tools can be used in ways that allow for learning environments that are easily adapted and customize to each learner’s unique needs, and that are additive and complementing of the traditional classroom,” Speight added.

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