3 Key Online Learning Validation Requirements

3 Key Online Learning Validation Requirements
Summary: Online learning validation involves ensuring: Validity of the eLearning qualifications, reproducibility of the online assessments, and reliability of the eLearning systems. Satisfying all of these 3 requirements is essential for making the online courses appealing to the learners!

3 Key Requirements For Online Learning Validation  

Studying online does offer learners a world of benefits. It is a time and cost effective way of learning required skills and gaining relevant qualifications. However, there is still a fair bit of reluctance to consider online courses among some of the students-to-be: They tend to claim that many of the eCourses fail to replicate or substitute the traditional study experiences. Furthermore, online study (according to them that is) cannot be recognized as a full equivalent of face-to-face delivery and is therefore inferior. In this article, I am going to discuss online learning validation requirements.

Rome was not built in one day! It may take time to convince some of the skeptics of eLearning benefits. In the meantime, we need to ensure that our powers of conviction are based not only on utilizing a wide range of promotional tools, including traditional tools, but also on our ability to deliver an online experience that is in no way inferior to the traditional learning experience. In order to do so, we need to ensure that the online courses we are offering are compliant with the following 3 requirements:

  • Validity of the eLearning qualifications.
  • Reproducibility of the online assessments.
  • Reliability of the eLearning systems.
  1. Validity of the eLearning qualifications.
    Just like with traditional training program, it is essential for learners to be rewarded with a valid qualification/certificate that is going to be recognized by both industrial and academic bodies. If an online course leads to a University degree or an industry qualification that is an equivalent of its face-to-face delivered counterpart, its validity is unlikely to be questioned by anyone. For example, in Australia we have many online providers of training courses. The ones offering accredited degrees and certifications are by far the most popular ones. Just like in a traditional learning environment, an online MBA from a country’s leading University is likely to attract a lot of interest among the learners but websites that offer to teach “business administration skills”, but have no recognized awards to offer are usually doomed to fail. Obviously, there are exceptions from this “rule”… but they only confirm the rule!
  2. Reproducibility of the online assessments.
    Another reason some employers may feel skeptical about recognizing online qualifications is concerns about validity and fairness of the assessments, since students are not being “observed” while undertaking tests or exams. It leads to a perception that online assessments are easy to cheat with. Not only it compromises reputation of the courses delivered, but it also brings a shadow of doubt on integrity of the genuine learners undertaking the online assessments. Even if their pathways to the online qualifications are fair and square, cheating-friendly or oversimplified assessments will make their proficiency levels unverifiable and easy to dispute. Reproducibility of the eLearning outcomes (aka online assessments) refers to ensuring that the eGraduates are capable of clearing all of the assessments irrespectively of whether they are offered online or offline. Online exams and quizzes should be by no means easier than the ones students are facing in a traditional learning environment and cheating opportunities should be minimized. One of the proven approaches to validating online courses involves making arrangements for students to undertake at least some of the assessments under real-time supervision. For example, Open Universities Australia (leading Australian provider of online University and College programs) ensures that all of the courses (while the training/teaching delivery is fully online) incorporate at least some exams or tests that take place at specified examination venues where students are deprived of cheating opportunities.
  3. Reliability of the eLearning systems.
    State-of-art interactive technologies are instrumental in making an online course appealing to the learners. After all, it is those technologies that have potential for compensating for the lack of face-to-face interaction. Even more importantly, at no point should the technologies fail to fulfill their purpose. Some of the typical eLearning system failures to occur are: Losses of online quiz results/online assignment submissions, malfunctioning online resources, access difficulties/user authentication problems to name a few. While almost all of the training providers are using online tools, to supplement the learning experience, courses involving blended delivery (both online and offline) can attempt to compensate for the technology failures through other features (e.g. entertaining lectures and study activities on campus). However, for the online providers, such failures translate into absolute disasters both in terms of the course administration and and keeping the students satisfied.

To sum up, online training providers must invest considerable time and resources into designing their courses and tailoring these courses to the learners’ needs both in terms of user-friendliness and content. eLearning is no different from any other industries with customers wanting to have attention and support around the clock. Given that even many marriages are made online these days rather than in heaven, lack of face-to-face contact with fellow students and trainers is not a significant obstacle to overcome. Your online course will be appealing as long as the learning experience is no inferior and the qualifications obtained are recognized!