How Distance Learning Universities Maintain Communications

With traditional college experiences becoming more costly each year, many students are transitioning to distance learning universities to achieve their educational goals. In fact, enrollment periods between 2015 and 2016 from over 4,700 universities around the U.S. showed a 7.3 percent boost in online courses, marking a 14th consecutive year of steady growth.

Another transition to consider is the major shift in technology and social interaction. Today, a variety of students utilize tons of different platforms to increase productivity and gain new information on their own time. This self-starter attitude speaks directly to distance learning universities and the flexibility they offer to the struggles of a busy schedule.

Whether you're pursuing your undergraduate degree or an MBA, distance learning universities provide you with numerous advantages. Here's how you can utilize communications tools to make furthering your education easier to navigate.

What Are Distance Learning Universities?

Distance learning universities represent a way for students to gain an education remotely, rather than engaging in traditional classroom settings. Students are given coursework through online platforms set up by the institution, utilizing third-party applications that administer homework assignments, essays, quizzes, written exams and lectures.

Over the years, distance learning universities have become a highly popular choice for educational development since the remote structure allows for schedule flexibility. According to a study done by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), more diverse groups of students are pursuing higher education, demographics that indicate a major shift in the way universities should communicate and identify with them. For example, students ranging from 18 to 24 years old equaled 12.2 million in 2016, but those aged 25 to 34 years old totaled 4.6 million in the same year. In addition, students over the age of 35 totaled another 3.5 million, which signifies the importance of an academic experience that takes into account the changing circumstances and lifestyles of older adults.

Nontraditional students are an important group to consider when determining the importance of distance learning universities. Unlike younger students who only have their education as a top priority, nontraditional students may have families to support and full-time jobs to maintain, so having the option to continue their education on their own time is essential to what distance learning universities are trying to accomplish. This educational movement is about targeting different sets of students and implementing techniques that speak to their capacity for learning. Not all students can sit for hours in the classroom, so to counter that, distance learning programs must take action to accommodate different learning styles with innovative communications.

Communications Tools for Distance Learning Universities

To ensure that online students are getting the most out of their education, distance learning universities employ a unified communications approach that offers a variety of resources.

One of the most popular learning management systems (LMS) is a platform called Canvas. Based out of Salt Lake City, Utah, Canvas is a cloud-based software package that streamlines the student engagement through an application program interface (API) with several features that make education simple. Instructors can take advantage of notification preferences for new assignments, mobile capabilities for IOS and Android platforms, as well as integrated media tools to record lectures or video. Any distance learning university should be looking for holistic ways to improve online enrollment, and luckily, there are tons of third-party applications that offer similar experiences to mainstream LMS.

Other platforms that connect with students through social media, websites or mobile apps are also becoming popular in online education. Rather than distance learning universities relying on one-stop packages, they can allow instructors to choose their own resources for the curriculum. Educators can utilize video conferencing tools for study sessions, VoIP communications for class discussions or group collaborations, mobile apps for study guides or flashcards, and social media apps for homework assignments and easy grading.

Students can gain a well-rounded experience from these virtual assets, but keeping track of them all can be a real challenge when updates are constantly being made and classrooms are changing with each term. With that in mind, implementing packages that are controlled by one provider offers tons of advantages when it comes to management and customer service, and partnering with someone who makes communication a priority will no doubt give students the experience they're looking for.

Choose 8x8 for Your Distance Learning Tools

Distance learning universities have a lot to gain by utilizing advanced communications methods to connect with students around the world. By implementing new technologies and keeping them up to date, not only will students thrive, but institutions will enjoy growing enrollment rates and high levels of student engagement.

By replacing aging systems with cloud-based digital communications, your institution can save money on both capital and operating expenses and still offer increased functionality and features to students and instructors. This helps them achieve their ultimate goal: making learning more effective. Call 1-866-879-8647 or fill out our online form to request a no-obligation quote from an 8x8 Product Specialist.

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