Enhancing Distance Learning Systems Through the Cloud

The distance learning systems of today are a far cry from PLATO, the first computer-based training network released in 1959. They are far more engaging and interactive than the early eLearning services of the 2000s and have evolved from mostly static, pre-recorded content to interactive classes.

Distance Learning and Cloud Communications Software

Distance learning is live, engaging, and offers instructor-led courses delivered digitally over public or private internet channels.

Unified communications (UC) and VoIP platforms play a critical supporting role in training students and professionals locally, or from around the world. UC applications are ideal meeting spaces for internal training, as they include all the collaborative ingredients that live online training classes require, such as:

  • High-quality video and audio streaming for students around the globe
  • Team and one-to-one instant messaging functionality
  • Screen sharing
  • Audience muting for seminar-style classes
  • Flexibility to access classes on either desktop or mobile devices
  • Options to record classes for those who can't attend, or want to review content
  • Scalability to enable multiple trainers/hosts and up to 100 participants/students

For budget-conscious businesses that need to keep their employees' skills and knowledge current, distance learning eliminates costs such as travel, textbooks, accommodation, and loss of productivity. It enables adult learners to take part in courses they would otherwise miss out on. Children with debilitating diseases who are likely to miss school entirely can attend classes through telepresence robots.

How Distance Learning Systems Address Different Learning Styles

Distance learning offers students of all ages opportunities to apply their learning style to reap the best results.

  • Visual learners will find great pictures, images, and graphs shared by an instructor through screen sharing.
  • Aural learners can pick up learnings through an instructor's voice and classroom discussion, instead of reading static content.
  • Verbal and social learners can ask questions, debate opinions, and participate in role-playing exercises.
  • Solitary learners, like those with social anxieties, accessibility challenges, or phobias can attend without leaving their home or office.
  • Physical learners can prop their device on a treadmill, walk around the room or fidget without disturbing their peers.
  • Logical learners are using a system for learning, win-win!

Businesses with geographically dispersed sales teams, contact centers with large groups of agents or retail locations can leverage distance learning to provide engaging live training and testing. This way, employers avoid the costs and downtime of traveling to training centers.

Nanodegrees and Distance Learning

As professionals progress through their careers, they often reach a crossroad where they need to learn new skills to transition into new roles or progress in their current specialty. With responsibilities like family and finances, returning to college or university is not always practical.

In times of near-zero unemployment, or when businesses are challenged to find candidates with specialized skill sets, a nanodegree course, or credential program, accelerates learning time and reduces the cost for students.

For many professions, instructors with particular expertise are often rare. Instead of having a professor fly around the world or across the country, distance learning can help instructors reach a larger student group. Many instructors are distinguished fellows or renowned in a field that they are still active in, and their expertise is in high demand.

Interactivity and Self-Paced Classes

Distance learning enables students to leverage instant messaging to interact with their peers. Recorded class content is ideal for students who want to review classes to study for exams or complete coursework on a schedule that works best for them.

For technical professionals that need to keep up with certifications on application development or UX design, distance learning is an ideal course delivery channel. Students can track their progress on a specific learning path, and take new courses as they become available.

What Surveys Say

Many millennials and iGen (also referred to as “Generation Z”) digital natives prefer distance learning over long-term, traditional higher ed programs. A Pearson Education survey of these generations found that 44% of millennials and 32% of iGen prefer online lectures and video courses over live classes because of the learning/life balance it provides. 59% of iGen and 66% of millennial survey responders feel technology plays a pivotal role in education.

A study by the University of Southern Mississippi found that distance learning was most engaging and effective when there were interactive training opportunities among students, the course content, and with their professor. Students preferred online learning with opportunities to see and interact with their fellow students and professor on video over webinar classes with no interaction. Learners in interactive classes also showed better performance than those who listened passively and skimmed through content.

This sort of interactive virtual classroom environment is an ideal use case for corporate unified communications solutions.

The Right Delivery Network for Distance Learning

When there are up to 100 students participating in a distance learning class worldwide, you need an enterprise-grade learning platform to deliver the content.

A platform which:

  • Supports users on desktop, laptop, and mobile devices
  • Is secure, scalable, and compliant with standards like HIPAA and PCI-DSS
  • Is interoperable with other collaboration apps like Slack or Google Hangouts
  • Has global reach to offer localized international user experiences to learners in different parts of the world
  • Offers 99%+ reliability that students and businesses have come to expect in their collaboration software

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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