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Choosing an Online Learning Platform: The Complete Guide

Rachel Maltese
Updated September 8 2020
Rachel Maltese
Updated September 8 2020

There are lots of great reasons to implement online learning for your school or university. After all, online learning can make your classes more accessible, attract a more diverse range of students, and allow you to enroll students from a broader geographic area. Additionally, in this time of COVID-19, having an online learning platform also means that you never have to worry about the business of learning being interrupted by Stay At Home orders and social distancing guidelines.

 

But how do you choose the right platform for your online learning needs? Below, we look at some of the issues and features you should consider as your institution goes through the process of selecting an online learning platform.

Is it easy to use?

An online learning platform shouldn’t have a steep learning curve. Rather, an online learning platform should be easy to use – for teachers, students, and administrators alike. Intuitive systems, clear controls, and meaningful support options should all be an essential part of your selection criteria.

Does it work well with your existing systems?

Investing in an online learning system shouldn’t force your school to reinvent the wheel. Instead, the online learning platform you choose should be able to offer seamless integration with other tools your university may already be using. This includes platforms like Kaltura’s online learning platform that can also work with your Learning Management System (LMS) and any lecture capture, webcasting, or video hosting technologies your institution is already using.

Does it provide an engaging learning experience?

Of course, the most important thing about an online learning platform is the educational experience it provides. This goes beyond being easy to use and well-integrated with your other systems. This is about providing students and teachers with a range of different experiences that help learners acquire knowledge.

 

Your online learning platform should be able to provide for both synchronous (classes and other learning activities that happen in real time) and asynchronous (learning activities that take place at times most convenient to individual participants) learning options since most online courses use a combination of synchronous and asynchronous content and participation.

Since online learning isn’t just about students watching a video of an instructor speak, it’s important to choose an online learning platform that supports options like:

  • Interactive content, including lean-forward video features such choose-your-own-adventure learning paths and hotspots, as well as quizzes and exams
  • Persistent virtual classroom spaces that can host ongoing asynchronous discussion of class material
  • A way for students to receive and review feedback for their work – this includes grading and comments from their instructor.

Will it work for all your students, no matter what type of device they are using?

When evaluating online learning platforms, you should consider the broad range of digital devices and internet connections that online students may be using. Quality video experiences – without glitches or lags – are absolutely necessary to keeping students engage with online learning. Additionally, you never want to force your students to invest in new technology just so they can achieve compatibility with your school’s online learning platform. Especially for live classes, browser-based platforms that do not require students to install anything to participate have the lowest barrier to entry (and often, the fewest security concerns).

Is it accessible?

Accessibility goes beyond what type of computer or digital device your students are using. Being able to make sure that video content is captioned is an essential part of an online learning platform that truly considers the needs of all students. And accessibility tools like automated captioning for on-demand content and the ability to add live captions to live events aren’t just about accommodating disabled students; according to recent studies on their utility, these are an enhancement that can benefit all students enrolled in online classes.

Is it secure?

An online learning platform must also be secure, both for peace of mind but also to conform to laws about personal information security. Not only must any online platform you choose keep personal information for students and instructors safe, you will need to choose an online learning platform that can keep class time safe from threats like zoom bombing and other disruptions.

Does it provide analytics?

When choosing an online learning platform, you’ll also want to consider the availability of analytics. Are students watching and completing all videos? Is there specific content that seems to cause students to stop engaging or generates multiple re-watches? An online learning platform’s analytics can help you refine both individual classes and your virtual classes overall. Additionally, it can provide instructors essential data that can help them evaluate student performance and provide more support to specific students as needed.

Is it reliable?

The demand for online learning is constantly growing. Technology improvements, non-traditional students, and unprecedented events have all dramatically increased the demand for virtual classroom experiences. This will likely only continue to be an area for growth. For this reason – especially in light of events like regional Zoom outages — it’s particularly important to choose an online learning platform that’s stable and can handle both high demand and ongoing growth.

Conclusion

Ultimately, choosing an online learning platform is about meeting your students needs and providing them with an experience that doesn’t just mirror a traditional classroom experience, but enhances it.

How can Kaltura help?

As a company, Kaltura is focused on the ways video can improve communication, collaboration, and education. Our products include LMS integrations and a video tools specifically customized for educational needs.

 

With our easy-to-use platform, virtual rooms that instructors can prepare in advance with class-specific resources are just the starting point. We make it easy to upload presentations, documents, videos, and more to share before, during, or after class. Meanwhile, students are also able to discuss material and collaborate independently thanks to whiteboards, shared notes, breakout rooms, and chat tools.

 

We invite you to explore Kaltura Virtual Classroom and how it can .

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