Education is a passion of mine, so is learning, and during the recent years, I've been taking different approaches towards learning and teaching online. I've taken online university courses, free courses such as on Khan Academy, EdX, tried to learn to code on a variety of sites such as Codeacademy, Treehouse, Code Babes (Yep, one of the more interesting motivators to crush coding) to name a few. I've had the opportunity to hold live webinars, facilitate team development sessions and teach photoshop tutorials in remote places. They all have their nooks and crannies, but I've reacted to a few things.
Out of the four universities I've attended, the distance courses that worked well was learning a language and one on photography. Neither of these two had much in common except a decent UI, they were neither universities prominent in the field of teaching or IT.
One of the other two did though, one I lost all my motivation because they expected every participant to be able to buy books that could only be bought in Sweden, even being in the neighbouring country of Denmark made that one difficult for me. Sadly, the participants located in other parts of the world didn't make it either.
So lesson one: Make all your material available in a digital format if you are to create a digital online learning experience.
I'm not writing this just to complain, rather praise, and I want to give an example of a great online learning platform in my opinion. Oddly enough it is for learning how to use your body. The website is gmb.io, GMB, short for Gold Medal Bodies empower people all over the world to master their bodies, have fun and reach physical autonomy. Their site might not be prettier than most others but they do apply some great principles to teaching.
1. They act human in everything they do, from videos, how to measure results and practice. Ex. Ryan, the head coach, shows us that even he has bad days when practicing and that it isn't about achieving a perfect movement but rather to play with it.
2. They use "staged" visibility, meaning they don't show you everything or release a whole program. You are working in levels, yet you can't see what's next, enabling you to focus on the now.
3. They teach you how to learn. Ex. They have simple instructions for how & why's and success tips on how to practice.
4. They have extra resources that are relevant and easy to understand.
5. They encourage you to share. Ex. They have Facebook groups where they encourage you to share your attempts during the days which enables participants to interact with each other. They also have what they call the Alpha Posse for more dedicated members to interact, get weekly recaps and learn.
These are a few things that I believe are necessary for capturing and making online learning better. Teaching how to learn online with a human approach is so relevant as there's a lot of information lost when teaching through the screen, it might sound like a simple thing, but for most people they need the simplest of instructions to navigate a learning platform when things aren't as intuitive.
What practices have caught your attention and helped you learn online lately?