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.

However, for an educational institution it is a growing management problem. Imagine a student who studies four courses/subjects. Imagine that each course/subject uses two additional online resources to supplement the courses in their OLE. This is eight additional user names, passwords and web sites to remember. Additionally, an organization may have dozens of sites requiring user management as faculties increase their resources…and the number will grow.

(Next page: Blended/online learning solutions)

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