Things to Know Before Buying Software for Distance Learning
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The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the closure of many schools and colleges worldwide. But learning must go on. Educational organizations and students have preferred going the distance learning way to overcome the crisis in education. For distance learning to be as effective as the traditional forms of learning, it is important to use a distance learning software that is easy to operate, use, and access. Here are the important features of the software for distance learning. ~ Ed.
Nowadays, distance learning is more popular than ever. There are plenty of learning platforms that help teachers to make this kind of learning equally effective as the traditional one.
There are also software for online learning. To choose a good option, it’s essential to be aware of some factors to consider before buying the software. So, let’s have a look at some things you need to know so your learning is complete, easy, and fun.
For online learning to be effective, the technology used in it must have such characteristics that it is enjoyable for both the learner and the teacher. Nothing dampens the enthusiasm of learners more than the technical challenges posed by difficult-to-use software.
First, we will look at the main technological solutions used for e-learning solutions, and then the characteristics that need to be considered when choosing the right distance learning software.
COVID-19 has influenced the popularity of distance learning greatly. That is why educational software have become more popular than ever.
The main types of such programs are the following:
- Authoring software products (Authoring Packages);
- Learning Management Systems (LMS);
- Content Management Systems (CMS);
- Learning Content Management Systems (LCMS).
When choosing software for distance learning, regardless of its level, five characteristics must be taken into account:
- reliability in operation
- ease of use
- provision of access
Each of these characteristics is essential. It is important to note that many of them overlap. However, considering them separately helps to gain a deeper understanding of the technical requirements for online learning systems.
This parameter characterizes the ease of administration and ease of updating content using existing templates. When choosing software, make sure that the content of the training course and the structure of the site are separated so that when you update the content you cannot accidentally delete important menu items. Check the help system to see if it is really helpful.
It is advisable that during operation you do not depend on the mercy of the seller. If it is difficult to add new users to the system, exclude old ones, add content, if there are problems with updating the site, etc., such software cannot be used.
Choose an online learning system that is compatible with other e-learning solutions on the market. Although there is no “one size fits all” software solution that meets all possible standards, you can still choose a system that supports at least one widely accepted standard. Otherwise, you will be associated with the developers of this system from the moment of its purchase for a long time.
Your choice depends on the answers to the following questions:
- Will you need to move content from one Learning Management System to another?
- Will you create educational content yourself?
- Are you going to use copyrighted software products supplied with the content management system?
- Will you need to look for employees who can quickly create courses using these software products?
One way to ensure compatibility is to look for software that adheres to certain standards adopted by the distance learning industry. Ideally, it should allow the use of the same learning materials in different learning management and content management systems. It’s important if you want to make distance learning maximally effective.
When choosing a new system, it is necessary to ensure its ease of use. This is an important parameter because potential learners will never use technology that seems cumbersome or difficult to navigate. The teaching technology should be intuitive. It should be easy to find the help menu in a training course. It should be easy to navigate from one section to another and communicate with the instructor.
Instructors, on the other hand, are reluctant to read a thick manual or waste the time trying to figure out how to create a test or something like that. Software should be simple and understandable. Nobody can say for sure whether online educational platforms are better than traditional schools, but they are effective – this fact is indisputable.
In modern online learning systems, small interchangeable objects of knowledge can be used – small elements of educational content. These are self-contained blocks of information that can be reused for educational purposes. They are often compared to the plastic elements of a Lego game. Someone can simply transfer objects of knowledge from one course or lesson to another, completely different from it. The purpose of creating these objects is to reduce course development time because once you create one object; you can reuse it over and over again. Such blocks can be connected, disconnected, and arranged in a different order, regardless of their size or color.
If you intend to use such a thing, it is necessary that the system you choose supports this kind of functionality.
This question has two aspects. First, trainees should not have barriers to accessing the program. For example, it must be compatible with screen readers – programs that read words on the screen for the visually impaired.
The second aspect is to ensure that the technology you are purchasing is suitable for all possible users. For example, if some of the trainees do not have the latest Macromedia Flash, they will not see the animation you create with this technology.
The purchased software must be tested with the browsers that the trainees will use. To ensure that the curriculum is running on the platform it is supposed to run on, it is worth testing based on multiple scenarios. It is better to test on multiple computers with different versions of browsers and other programs than to teach a few thousand people and fail. If you cannot control the software environment of the trainees, you need to give them strong recommendations about the configuration of their equipment.
Nowadays, the possibilities for online learning are endless. Video software is also a great tool that can help. As we know, there are lots of people who prefer visual learning, and video software helps to create amazing videos to surprise learners with. On this site, it is easy to create amazing videos for online learning.
Understandably, it is important to control and reduce the screen time of children, but it is easy to do it if you are the right example. Moreover, modern online learning strategies do not presuppose spending hours in front of a laptop, which is great.
Over to you
Have you ever used any distance learning software? If yes, then please share your thoughts and experiences about the same in the comments section.
Disclaimer: Though the views expressed are of the author’s own, this article has been checked for its authenticity of information and resource links provided for a better and deeper understanding of the subject matter. However, you're suggested to make your diligent research and consult subject experts to decide what is best for you. If you spot any factual errors, spelling, or grammatical mistakes in the article, please report at [email protected]. Thanks.