Online Learning Platforms: Advantages and Criticisms Posted in: Education

We currently face some new issues and questions regarding the validity of online education lately and this article shall discuss them in reference to solutions provided by various online platforms. The online education system has broadened the horizons of reach and availability to thus far un-reached groups of learners. However, it has its own challenges and issues to be observed and resolved. The primary concern is measuring student engagement during online learning sessions and measures to ensure academic honesty during assessments.

The teachers’ ability to monitor student involvement in a physical classroom is missing in the online platforms. With the privacy-intensive issues involved in conducting live cam-to-cam sessions and the distraction factor involved in watching each individual student on smaller windows on your screen. Handing this responsibility while concentrating on the subject matter, is a common complaint from online instructors using these platforms. The solution can be partially achieved using stats and analytics provided by the same platforms such as blackboard or course smart.

The stats and analytics concentrate on navigation patterns, screen time, cursor movement, rate of response to pop-quizzes and participation in boards and forums to consolidate the overall involvement and engagement of students. While this is not an error proof method, we can confidently state that we are gearing towards monitor the involvement levels on an individual course-by-course basis and gauge the effectiveness of the course content. Similar to any online measuring tool, the analytics algorithms have come under fire from educational experts stating, “The algorithm can be fooled by students and takes a huge amount of effort from the instructor to be implemented”. There are two parts to this criticism.

The first part is that students can effectively fake involvement by moving the mouse occasionally or having a small navigation ratio, while differentiating this from a student who is actually listening to the session is difficult. The second part of the criticism is the amount of effort that the instructor needs to provide like recording the analytics, using the auto LMS forms after the session and in some cases constantly ask student feedback for rating the course and the instructors. Many vendors providing such platforms are working towards bringing AI based analytics tools to remove errors and increase the accuracy of student engagement mapping.

Will the criticisms outweigh the usability of the online classrooms?

What is the student response to criticisms and the user friendliness of these platforms?

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