Online technologies can be a great option to bridge geographic divides and bring dispersed groups together. At Life Strategies we regularly use several different types of technologies (e.g., Skype, GoToMeeting, OmniJoin, Moodle) depending on the purpose of the group (e.g., team meetings, e-coaching/e-counselling sessions, webinars, or e-courses). In 2004, we launched our LearnOnline program using Moodle, an open-source, customizable, and interactive online learning management system. Our primary goal was to bring training to Career Development Practitioners (CDPs) who worked in remote communities with limited access to traditional, brick and mortar training programs. Over time our program has incorporated multimedia, restructured to better meet our students’ needs, and grown to welcome students as far away as Zimbabwe and the United Arab Emirates.
Our students have diverse educational/work experience, often returning to “school” after some absence. They also have diverse expectations about what “online learning” means (e.g., self-directed distance learning, interactive live sessions) and may be nervous (or reluctant) to engage online. As the Student Advisor, I like to direct our new students to a helpful resource: 10 Tips for Online Learning.
As a student, you may find exploring online options will uncover opportunities to learn from facilitators you’d never have access to and interact with diverse professionals from around the world. Keep in mind that not all online learning is created equal; just like face-to-face, there will be unique ways to present content. Reflect on what you need to be successful and ensure the training you pick speaks to you.
As a facilitator, I encourage you to examine the benefits e-learning can offer you and your students. Keep in mind that blended programs (i.e., those that mix online and in-person components) can be a great option to explore. Life Strategies often use blended frameworks to meet the needs of our learners and we have supported several other organizations to offer their programs online.