Implementing an Online Learning Program

eDOT has developed a series of five articles that address issues organizations or ministries should answer prior to implementing an online program.

1. Solving a Problem
Implementing an online learning program in a ministry requires expenditure of effort and resources. In order to make the implementation of an online learning program the best possible experience for the ministry and potential students, eDOT has developed a series of articles that address issues organizations or ministries should answer prior to implementing an online program. These articles have been based on experience with other ministries that have implemented online learning programs. In our experience, the implementation of online learning has always gone better when ministries take the time to explore the issues and answer these questions prior to starting the implementation process. This article will address such questions as: “Why Consider Online Learning?” and “What Will Online Learning Solve?”, as well as provide significant resources for your ministry.

View the article “Solving a Problem”

2. Choosing a Learning Management System
The choice of a Learning Management System (LMS) and the necessary infrastructure for online learning will have significant consequences for a ministry. Choosing an LMS requires careful consideration of ministry and student needs. The LMS will need to offer enough features to support needed learning activities, while being simple enough to allow easy access and use for both students and instructors.

In this article, eDOT will offer guidance and suggestions about the choice of an LMS and infrastructure based on our experience and the experience of other ministries.

This is the second out of five articles designed to help your ministry in implementing an online learning program.

View the article “Choosing a Learning Management System”

3. Preparing Instructors for Online Learning
Previous articles in this series have explored the rationale for choosing to offer online courses and have provided steps to assist in the choice of a learning environment to house those online courses. This article takes the next step in the series and addresses the issue of preparing instructors to teach in the online learning environment. When instruction moves online, necessary changes to instructional strategies are required. Not all classroom teaching methods will work online. In this article we will explore the changes that instructors need to consider as they make the transition from classroom to online teaching.

Of the topics explored in this series, the preparation of instructors for online learning may be the most significant component. The importance of well-prepared instructors for the online learning environment cannot be overstated. It is safe to say that a mediocre online course can be made a great learning experience given a well-equipped online facilitator. However, even a well-designed and well-implemented online course can have dismal results if the facilitator is not prepared or equipped for the online learning environment. It should not be assumed that because an instructor has classroom teaching experience that the person will make a good instructor online. Certainly there are teaching practices that carry over from a classroom to the online learning environment. However, there are significant differences between teaching in a classroom and teaching online. These differences must be recognized and appreciated, and instructors should be prepared for the changes that are necessary as teaching moves online.

This preparation of instructors for the online learning experience is a vast topic. When this author learned the techniques, skills, and methods to become an online facilitator, it was through a series of online courses that spanned nine months and the reading of thousands of pages of texts. The best practices of preparing to teach online can only be summarized in this article. It is our goal in this article to give guidance to instructors for further preparation.

View the article “Preparing Instructors for Online Learning”

4. Instructional Design for Online Learning
Instructional design guides the process of developing training (both resources and experiences) to meet the educational needs of students. Instructional design considers the current learning needs of the student and how best to deliver a body of content or experience to the student to meet his/her needs. Although instructional design applies to any educational experience, its significance and importance increase in the online learning realm.

View the article “Instructional Design for Online Learning” 

5. Student Preparation for Online Learning
This series of articles has explored several components necessary to the successful implementation of online learning. These articles have addressed the topics of choosing to provide instruction online to solve an existing problem, choosing a Learning Management System to meet instructional needs, the preparation of instructors for online learning, and elements of good instructional design. There is an additional component that eDOT addresses in this article. That topic is student preparation for online learning.

To begin the discussion, a question must be posed: is online learning for everybody? The short answer is no. Online courses are not suitable for every student. Simply put, some students will thrive in the online learning environment and other students will fail online. This may not always be attributed as a failure of instructional design, but of student preparation. This article serves to help ministries distinguish the different types of students and decide what to do with those groups, i.e., how to prepare each of these groups for the online learning experience. This article also goes into detail about ways to assess the potential students and what the ministry can provide to help the potential students reach the level of preparation they need in order to successfully complete online learning courses.

View the article “Student Preparation for Online Learning”