Tuesday, 15 September 2015

5 reasons Why you should ALWAYS use 3rd party online platform for online courses rather than developing your own

Yes, I know what pops into your mind when you are planning to use third party resources.

Will it dilute my brand?

What about content security?

Why should I pay lifetime rather than developing my own and pay once?

Won't developing my own be cost effective?

Won't developing my own have everything I need and as I need?

and many more

These are all myths.

Below are the 5 top reasons why you should always use a 3rd party provider to host your classes.

1) Cost: It will be most cost effective to use third party for hosting your online courses. As they cater to many teachers or institutes, the fixed costs will be shared and now a days they don't charge the development costs to the teacher or institute. If you try to develop your own platform then you will not only have to bear the development costs, but also you need to keep on updating your system, keep on paying the development team or maintenance team. You will also have to pay the cost for servers every month. You will require a full set up and space, which needs to be accounted for rent, space etc.You will have to hire people and pay salaries etc. When you think about developing our own platform you miss many of these costs and regret later. That is the reason why many now a days prefer third party platforms to host their online courses.

2) Development: You need to understand that development is not a one time work. If you have developed something, you need to maintain it and keep adding new technologies and features to not become redundant in this fast moving world. So, if you think of just developing something and fixing it there then think again! You need to maintain it, you need to keep adding additional features, otherwise your competitors will over take you.
If you are using third party platforms like www.learnwithguru.com, we keep developing the platform and will always try to be ahead of the curve. You need not pay for the development and maintenance, because without development we know that they are going to become redundant. Also, what ever we develop will be available to you with no time lag. So, you will always be ahead of the curve and stand out in the market.

3) Security: Your content is the king! You need to keep it secure, which means you need to spend money on th security. Using the third party service platform, will help you address these worries. It is in their own interest to keep your content secure. They have highest quality industry standard security systems in place. As this is common for all the people using their platform you need not worry about the cost burden of security services. You can be confident.

4) Time: One of the important aspects of developing your own platform is time. It take time to develop, you will find many software companies promising to develop in one month or two months, but trust me it will take a year. This is not only from my own experience but from the experiences of others who tried developing their own platform and burnt the hands doing so. There will be many bugs that you will encounter. You will have to devote a lot of time, which otherwise you would be using for teaching or learning. You will have to go through sleepless nights. More importantly, your competitor might have already enrolled with a third party platform and will be providing online support right away. Your competitor will also have the advantage of this third party platform adding new features to keep up with the technology. We all know that time is a privilege. By using the third party platforms you can spend your time in teaching and learning.

5) Comfort: Developing your own platform will require your attention and you will encounter many hurdles. You will loose your sleep over it, your mainstream teaching will be effected, you money will be spent over the budget. You will require a team and you need to manage and maintain additional resources.
Using third party platform will give you the comfort of someone else doing all this and you will know before hand what will be the expense you are going to encounter. Most importantly if you feel that something is not working then you can stop it when ever you want to, your money wouldn't have been wasted. Also, platforms like www.learnwithguru.com provides pay per student policy, which will keep you at peace knowing that you will only pay for the number for the number of students you have. Your investment won't go wasted.

Additional advantages include marketing for your courses, visibility among students, reaching out globally, ease of management of the online courses, not worrying about bugs and support etc.

Owing to all the above and many more, using platforms like www.learnwithguru.com to provide online courses and tests will be to your advantage.

If anyone tries to convince otherwise then just do a cost analysis after accounting for all the factors like time, maintenance, team, space, storage, server, hosting, sleep, visibility etc. then you will arrive at your own conclusion.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Common Features of Online Learning Platforms

An online learning platform (OLP) refers to a group of online services and technologies that bring educators, learners, and other invested parties together and facilitate creation, delivery, and management of content in various forms. The major reasoning behind such platforms is to make education delivery more learner-centric so that students could gain maximum out of their course content. Some of the basic or desired features of these OLPs are discussed below.

Virtual Classroom

Students often miss classes and find it difficult to understand the concepts discussed in the class even if they have access to the notes. This elaborates the importance of live classroom teaching and its impact on the students. Virtual classroom essentially tries to replicate this process through video on demand concept. These recorded videos of live classrooms are made available to the students who get the much needed flexibility to learn from them at any time of the day. To enhance the overall experience, students can use discussion boards to clear any doubts regarding the concepts discussed in the videos with the teacher as well as with the fellow students.

Cloud Storage Capability

The benefits of cloud storage for educators couldn't be overemphasised. Teachers can easily store their class notes, documents, PPTs, video recordings, spreadsheets, etc. on the cloud that could be easily shared with the students or other educators at any time & from anywhere. It provides better security of your data against theft or damage as it will be protected with a username & a password that only you can control. Apart from this, you may also get to use proprietary applications such as Microsoft Office and others to modify your resources for free without the need to purchase such licenses.

Seamless Multimedia Content Generation

Many educators may find it difficult to work around various technologies used for generating content. For example, recording live classroom lectures, processing the recorded video, and uploading it to the cloud storage may become cumbersome for the teachers and could act as an impediment for online teaching. A learning platform must provide enough technological assistance to educators so that they can easily navigate through various steps used for content generation and delivery.

Course Management Tools

Online learning platforms assist online teaching by providing educators the right set of tools to manage their course material. Such tools allow teachers to segregate course into various topics and put time-bound restriction on them so that the learners know when and the duration in which they must complete these topics. Course management tools allow creation of online question banks that can be used to test learners on various topics and also provide detailed performance analysis of all students for every test.    

Monday, 29 June 2015

Tips for Enhancing Online Pedagogical Prowess

For every educator, the decision to use online teaching comes with a lot of apprehensions about the efficacy of online education and how to work through this new technology. Fear of failing, not been able to connect with the audience, video quality, uneasiness with the online tools, etc. creates inhibitions towards e-learning. All these fears are quite natural and every educator grapples with them irrespective of teaching experience. However, with a well thought-out strategy to achieve end goals and lots of patience, online teaching could become extremely effective & satisfying for the educators.
Some relevant online teaching tips that could help educators to acclimatize better with this new way of disseminating information are briefly discussed below.

Plan for Initial Hiccups

It takes time to grasp new tools & functions and aligning content systematically may take substantial amount of time. During these first few days things might look hopelessly chaotic and you & your students would pretty much spend most of your time getting acquainted with the online resources. We through our online & technical support for educators & institutes, try to make this platform transition as smooth as possible. With the help of virtual classroom management system, Association for Information Systems (AIS) kit, and course management service, LearnwithGuru ensures that educators don't get entangled with the technology but concentrate on the thing that they do best i.e. teaching.

Grab & Hold Attention

It's difficult to replicate the same classroom environment while disseminating content online. It inevitably boils down to the content represented as it's the only reason why students have come to you in the first place itself; but to create curiosity and interest, educators need to do something more than just plain off-load of content. Occasional webinars and creating threads on discussion boards related to difficult topics are quite useful in engaging students on a wider platform. A good mix of multimedia content, notes, fun facts, quizzes with leaderboards, etc. help in keeping the interest level of students high.

Feedback Network

One important thing missing from e-learning is instant feedback which is an important part of any type of learning. Hence, making sure that you connect with your audience in a perpetual manner eliminates the feeling of isolated teaching. It is imperative to engage with students on a regular basis so as to answer their doubts and for fostering discussion among them related to the content distributed. This helps in creating a viable environment for interactive learning that in many ways mirrors the live classroom settings.

Schedule-based Content

It's often seen that students skip many topics or get way behind on the learning material while going for online learning. To keep them abreast with the progress of the course, provide how many study hours must be spent in completing a particular topic and gauge progress of student through online mock tests on these topics. Designing a schedule-based program allows students to learn time management and allocate appropriate amount of time to every topic.

Connecting with the Audience

To be able to connect with the students on a personal level, many educators tend to share their student-life and teaching experiences so as to relate with the current situation of their students. Off-topic discussions through forums & boards related to common problems faced by students and sharing own experiences help to enliven the teacher-student engagement. Though not necessary, such interactions create a positive effect which makes online engagement more real & enriching.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Online Teaching: Redefining Educational Paradigm

Educators around the globe are incessantly searching for new resources that could help their students to attain exhaustive knowledge of various topics. Supplementing classroom knowledge with other forms to disseminate information has become rather imperative. Online teaching, that leverages the ubiquitous reach of Internet to disseminate teaching material to a wider group with 24/7 availability, is not only redefining the style of communication between the educators & students but is also continuously redefining itself to add value to the whole teacher-student engagement. It is important to mention here that this e-learning doesn't diminishes but complements the classroom teaching.

Some relevant points that augment the e-learning experience are briefly discussed below.

Teachers' Contribution

Even traditionally, educators have had used different methods in addition to classroom teaching to help students with their studies. The difference, today, however, comes from the ability to connect with them at any hour for any length of time. White board videos, online transcripts, live discussion boards (Thought Box), etc. allow students to tap into various educational resources if & when required. Apart from this, teachers can easily create & organize online question bank and conduct mock online tests on various topics to seamlessly monitor & manage the progress report of every student.

Students' Acceptability

The high efficacy of online teaching observed among students can be contributed to the familiarity and easiness of incorporating technology into trivial day-to-day tasks & problems by the students. Hence, the transition from real to virtual classrooms among students is rather smoother than what is observed in the case of faculty of most educational institutions. Easy access to teachers' study material online helps students to save their time and more importantly in ensuring that the online content accessed is correct & relevant. Mock online tests allow students to gauge their performance leading to final tests and work on their weak areas with the help of online educational resources.

Role of Discussion Boards

It is quite common these days to join some forum or write a blog about an interest. Students these days engage with the online world through these platforms to ask or comment on common interests. Discussion boards are just an extension of such platforms where students ask or clear the doubts of other students. A teacher might start a thread on a specific application of a concept taught in the class and let students share their opinions on it. Conversely, students might ask their teachers on any topic that they are finding difficult to comprehend. Hence, out-of-class interaction could be progressively maintained between the students & teachers.