Face-to-face learning programs, where engagement is higher than online programs, offers an avenue for learners to interact and network, so they can discuss, collaborate on projects, and clarify each other's doubts. Online programs lack the rich interaction and focus on the flexibility of learning anytime, anywhere. This trade-off does not work well for learning engagement and the success of the learning program.
To extend the richness of face-to-face program flexibly, we must start building online learning communities, instead of traditional eLearning platforms. The purpose of the two systems are different. The primary objective of a traditional LMS for eLearning is being able to deliver the learning content, whereas the objective of building a learning community is to provide a space for learners to discuss with each other, share ideas and questions, tap into the knowledge of the teachers and experts in an asynchronous way, and learn through networks.
Apart from structured learning, which is delivered through the learning resources, there is unstructured or informal learning that happens through interactions and discussions with other learners. This unstructured or informal learning can be retained and even improved in a collaborative learning platform.
A collaborative learning platform focuses on building an online learning community, whilst enabling the access of structured learning resources, and tracking of engagement and learning outcomes.
Technology can address several challenges in education, which can make a meaningful impact to the world, and there are many versions where it plays leading or supporting roles in transforming education, where its promise is massive and transformative.
However, classroom contact hours be it in higher education, adult learning or enterprise training, are reducing. Learners are unable to spend as much time in physical classrooms, and demand flexibility, so institutions must have an online learning delivery model. As more institutions adopt a blended or pure online learning programs, they face challenges building learning engagement and continuing to offer the rich interaction and collaboration experience of face-to-face learning programs.
While traditional LMSs check the boxes by providing access to learning resources but they fall short in fulfilling the promise of engaging learners, and in many instances teachers as well, with the platform and hence do not make any significant impact on learning outcomes and experience. Collaborative learning, on the other hand, offers the access and efficiency of traditional LMSs, and offers a more critical ingredient, that of a learning community which drives engagement in the learning process, and hence has a fairer shot at fulfilling the promise of an improved learning program and a better future for education.
Online learning should not be about watching a video late at night, or going through some slides, but asking questions if one does not understand everything in that video, or discuss and reflect on what has been taught.
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