Choosing an Online Learning Platform: Top Three Functions
Key points to consider when moving education into the digital space.
In 2020, Singapore announced a shift to full home-based learning amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Many educational institutes and students quickly picked up the use of online video conferencing platforms as a tool for remote teaching and learning. However, this has not been without its struggles. Online platforms are limited by their functions and many are not optimised for education but rather for conferences or casual conversations.
A year later, we find ourselves in a similar situation once again.
What, then, should we keep in mind when selecting a video conferencing platform for online learning?
Clear teacher-student and student-student communication is an essential part of effective teaching and learning. Online video conferencing platforms allow for communication through the screen and attempt to simulate real world settings by allowing participants to see and hear each other as if they were in the same physical space. It is not merely watching a video or lecture through a screen, but a two-way communication between the teacher and the students.
A good platform includes in-built features that facilitate communication. This serves to increase interaction and participation, and allows students to be comfortable asking questions, clearing up doubts about the lesson as they go along, and sharing their ideas and opinions.
2. Teaching Tools/Methods for Teachers
When sourcing for an online learning platform, it is also important to keep in mind navigation through the platform: it should be intuitive and easy for teachers to use.
Moving into the digital space, teachers often find themselves limited to certain teaching methods due to the teaching tools available (think: PowerPoint presentations). Many teachers thus seek out third-party applications such as online timers, games and polls in an attempt to spice up their lessons. This results in toggling between multiple applications and windows, which can be inefficient and feels like a juggling act. A good platform should thus be able to provide all of these teaching tools in one space, making them easily accessible.
3. Student Engagement
A common reservation about online learning is the amount of interaction and engagement that can happen across a screen. In the physical classroom, teachers are able to conduct various hands-on activities to engage students in their learning, and many teachers want to replicate this as closely as possible when teaching online. Given the differences in available features, online activities are affected by the choice of platform used. A good platform should thus come with features that are, preferably, purposefully designed for such a learning environment.
As teachers and students everywhere make the shift to online classes, it is important to carefully select a platform that is suitable for their content, teaching style, age group and learning needs to ensure that home-based learning is effective.
In the next article, we evaluate two video conferencing tools – Zoom and ClassIn. We also explain why we have selected ClassIn as our choice of online platform for LCentral’s Digital Lessons!
Behind our team of dynamic teachers is a support team of English specialists and curriculum experts, who are responsible for the development and delivery of LCentral’s programmes. The Curriculum Support Team is committed to ensuring that all teachers fulfil their teaching potential. The team provides teachers not just with curriculum support but also with ongoing training and professional development.