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Digitalizing A Course Made Easy

For many of the smaller training providers, getting started with online delivery appears to be an essential yet a very difficult transformation to undertake. It is becoming clear that growth and development of training organizations without offering online access as at least one of the study options is likely to become mission impossible; but at the same time, the customary fear of change in digitalizing a course is often multiplied by the fact that some of these providers offer training courses in fields that have not been technology-driven in the past to the same extent as, for instance, software development or business analytics.

Digital Transformation: Survival Of The Fittest

They are often run by digital immigrants—people who have not been exposed to cutting-edge digital technologies in the past and are naturally scared of the brave new eLearning world. The purpose of this article is to provide a brief and technical jargon-free overview of a five-step digital transformation process for nontechnical (i.e., where both the trainers and the learners may need to possess very limited technology skills such as, for instance, theology, ancient Latin, or indigenous arts) courses to make online delivery of these possible.

The Magic Steps To Digitalizing A Course

The steps to be included are:

  • Course content and structure review
  • Learning Management System (LMS) selection and adoption
  • Teaching and learning content transition to the LMS
  • System and process testing
  • Training teaching and academic administration support teams

1. Course Content And Structure Review

The initial step is to do a complete audit of the course objectives, syllabus, materials, assessments, and tools to identify potential “pain points” on the path to moving the course online. Such pain points may include assessments and learning activities requiring a “feel” such as, for instance, food preparation activities and assessments that are to be undertaken as part of cookery courses where many of the processes need to be completed “live” and in a collaborative environment. This step also has a side benefit of giving the training provider an opportunity to review the course all over again, and identify areas with space for further improvement (particularly given the technologies that are about to become available).

2. Learning Management System Selection And Adoption

Development of super-duper customized LMS systems is probably not for the digital immigrants who are making their very first steps into the world of online teaching and learning. Adoption of an established and tested LMS that can be customized to a significant extent is way more feasible. These platforms can be used for a wide range of courses, and the level of technology adoption can be adjusted according to the requirements and the expertise available. Another important factor to consider is availability of support resources and services throughout the adoption process—and this is where the mainstream learning platforms can assure the delivery of the support services required.

During the platform selection process, consider features offered by each of the LMSs, namely content management, communication tools, assessment capabilities, and User Interface. Consider whether the settings adopted are sufficient for delivering all of the processes required. Many of the courses contain unique aspects that may require additional investigations of the LMSs considered, to see whether online delivery can be accomplished comfortably without compromising efficiency of these features. One example of such requirements is where students need to work together in teams to do collaborative design.

3. Teaching And Learning Content Transition To The LMS

This is where things are going to get more “technical” and working collaboratively with LMS designers and developers is going to be instrumental for the transition to be successful. Getting the course materials, features, and assessments online and delivery-ready involves a wide range of aspects such as, for instance, readability, interactivity, and multimedia integration. Furthermore, the transition stage is yet another opportunity to embrace exclusive features of the online learning environment, by considering once again how these could be put to work to enhance the course further. Having an Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered study assistant is one example of how a course that has traditionally been classroom-bound can be enhanced significantly.

4. System And Process Testing

The testing should incorporate not only functionality testing (i.e., the system’s technical performance) but also usability testing (i.e., user-friendliness and optimization of the business processes). The functionality testing could include looking into processes such as user authentication, course creation, enrolment, assignment submission, content uploading, assessment marking, and generation of reports. The usability testing should examine user-friendliness and accessibility of the interfaces at large, and specific features that constitute part of the learning experience. It is beneficial to involve all of the stakeholder groups (students, educators, administrators, etc.) in the testing processes, as all of their perspectives truly matter.

5. Training Teaching And Academic Administration Teams

Prior to being forced to move their teaching and administration processes online out of “necessity” rather than out of “love,” the college team should receive adequate training to be able to operate effectively in the online environment. As well as mandatory training, ongoing support should be offered, along with the user manuals that cover all of the key processes involved. Needless to say, both the training manuals and the workshops should take into account the fact that the target audience are not IT gurus but educators who are merely deploying technology to enhance their workplace activities, so the user-friendliness of the adopted technologies should be emphasized throughout the training activities.

This Is Just The Beginning To Digitalizing A Course

It should be noted that the process above is obviously just the starting point for further digital transformation of the courses. Digital transformation is an ongoing process, so with confidence and skills growing, more technologies and tools will be brought in to aid the delivery as both the “teachers” and the “learners” keep upskilling. But as far as getting started is concerned, there is no need for the training providers to hold back and reject opportunities to go online simply because of fear of the unknown/not knowing where and how to get started!

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