Online education gives students access to courses that may not be available locally, but they must have the right tools to take full advantage of these classes.
Online learning has become very popular. Many students take online classes that aren’t offered at their local university, and some high school students even take their entire course load from home now. Some professionals and retired individuals looking to keep up with advancements in their field, or to learn something new, routinely learn from online sources. While you might take an online class with nothing more than a web browser, there are some tools that make online learning easier for both students and teachers.
This is a fairly basic tool, and many laptops now have webcams built in. However, if you don’t have a webcam, you may find yourself fairly limited in what you can do as far as interaction is concerned. For teachers, it’s almost an absolute must-have. It helps greatly if your students can see and hear you. Visual conference calls for group discussions are so much better if students can simply speak instead of typing out everything they want to say. Being able to see the other people in the class also helps build more of a connection between students which, in turn, makes for better interaction and discussion. Most webcams have built-in microphones, but some students prefer to purchase a separate, higher quality microphone.
A headset is another basic online educational tool, and it can make a huge difference in the quality of sound. Many people find it much easier to hear and focus on online videos and discussions if they have a headset. For students who may be in a public area or who have a lot of background noise, headsets are vital. Many also have microphones built into them.
When used in online education, blogs function like journals or short essays. Students keep a blog on a free platform like Blogger or Kidblog or they make notes on Facebook. Teachers can easily read and evaluate these blogs at any time, and they can even leave comments like they might on a traditional pen and paper essay. Students may even read each other’s works and leave feedback. This is a great tool for those courses that require a lot of teacher and peer feedback, such as writing courses.
While some online courses don’t require students to be online at the same time, it can be very helpful to host an online web conference several times throughout the course. Seeing each other and the instructor face to face can be very helpful. To do so, you need a program like UberConference that allows you to create an easy to use web conference. These conferences allow users to not only see and speak to each other, but also control who can speak, send text messages, and more. This is a great tool for distance learning (courses that are taught entirely online).
Even when you’re not using a conferencing program or some other more formal educational tool, you want your students to be connected. That’s where social media comes in. Many social media sites, like Facebook, allow you to create private groups where your students can discuss the lessons or just get to know each other better. These groups also make it very easy to share photos, videos, and websites with each other. The informal setting often makes it easier to focus more on learning and less on figuring out the platform, especially if it’s a form of social media with which students are familiar.
Many students use a notepad or a word processing program like Microsoft Word to take notes, but there are specific programs designed for note-taking in which online students might be interested. Microsoft OneNote and Evernote are just two of them. These programs do more than just help students take notes and organize them. They also make it easy to share these notes and compile notes from different sources, including text, emails, documents, and online resources.
Some software is designed, specifically, for online learning. One such tool is called Edmodo, which allows teachers to create a virtual classroom. Students can chat with each other and the teacher, but Edmodo does more than that. Teachers can send out announcements to all students, share documents and slideshows, and even send out assignments and see who has done them. This software also lets teachers create quizzes, has an online grade book tool, and a poll feature that gives teachers feedback.
Having the right tools is very important to successful online classes. Teachers need the right programs to allow them to effectively teach, while students must have everything they need to engage with other students and view all the materials. The tools listed are just a few of the must-haves to make an online course a success.