Let's be honest—a lot of us hated going to class when we were young. But now that we're out of the traditional school system, we recognize just how much we still have to learn. We may want to develop our career skills, take up a hobby or even delve deep into a scientific topic we've become interested in thanks to a late-night Wikipedia binge.
While it might be nice to take time off from work and go back to college or graduate school for a first or second degree, this isn't always feasible, and it's certainly not easy financially speaking. That's where online course platforms come in.
Like other learning management systems (LMSs), online course platforms facilitate learning, teaching and training programs for large groups of people. They automate the administration, testing, tracking and reporting of student progress through online courses.
LMS software is commonly used by educational institutions for academic purposes, and by businesses for training and compliance purposes. But, online course platforms can serve larger audiences, and they are frequently open to anybody who is interested in taking the course.
This buyer's guide will discuss the unique properties of online course platforms and explain how they may best be utilized by you and your business.
Here's our syllabus:
Online course platforms are a specific form of LMSs that provide access to massive open online courses, commonly known as "MOOCs." A variety of institutions, from universities to foundations to even the Smithsonian, provide MOOCs through online course platforms. They provide courses in science, engineering, mathematics, writing, business, project management and so on.
These courses are similar to traditional classes in many ways—a teacher provides a syllabus, complete with readings and assignments, posts weekly material for discussion (which may include a live-feed of a lecture, a pre-recorded lecture and/or a discussion board) and makes sure that assignments receive some form of grading or feedback, whether that grade is assigned by a person or a computer algorithm.
Some of these courses offer specific types of certification upon satisfactory completion of materials, while others will open up access to more advanced courses. Many of these classes are provided for free, while others charge a fee. This fee may be charged per class, as a monthly subscription with access to all the classes on a particular platform or as a specific charge in order to receive certification for a class.
|Learning management||The core function of course platforms, manages creating, storing, organizing and administering learning materials.|
|Certification/compliance management||Tracks student progress in order to manage and monitor certification and compliance training and provide certification upon completion of the course.|
|Virtual classrooms||Facilitates live, remote training sessions, typically led via video.|
|Proficiency reporting/testing||Administers tests to gauge users' learning of the course material. Allows for reporting of test scores to identify proficiencies or gaps in learning.|
|Discussion board||Provides a space for students and teachers to interact, whether via text or through the uploading and sharing of video or audio responses.|
|Dynamic calendar||Allows teachers to release materials at specified times during the life of a course, as well as track the submission of assignments by students.|
An example of a course calendar in Canvas
A wide variety of different types of people and organizations may find online course platforms useful. As a software buyer, you're likely to fall into one of the following categories:
Other factors to take into consideration when picking the best online course platform for you or your organization may include:
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