The biggest challenges facing distance learning providers

The distance learning market is changing rapidly and this poses seriuous challenges to distance and elearning providers.

Here we outline the main challenges faced and how to address them.

Technology

There is no doubt that many of the recent technology innovations are very applicable to distance and elearning and many will have been touted as the future of the industry. Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, chatbots and augmented reality all have great applications in elearning but it is important to set them in context.

As professionals, our role is to evaluate and make sure these innovations offer real opportunities in improving the effectiveness and opportunities in learning. As always it is about fitness for purpose.

Engagement.

Today, learners attention spans can be interrupted more than ever before. The use of social media, 24/7 news, instant messaging all disrupt attention spans and impact on learners when completing courses on laptops, tablets and smartphones.

It becomes even more important for us to create an engaging course if you use video consider the length. Consider what you can do to make your course more interactive for the learner and use a variety of different media to keep the course fresh and interesting for the learner.

At the support level, we need to help the learner focus on the learning by emphasising the need for space and time to reflect – simple things to minimise distractions by switching phones to silent, turning off device notifications and closing all tabs or programs can help.

Competition

The ease of video making, the reduced costs of learning management systems (LMS) and the ever-increasing speeds of internet connections have reduced barriers to entry into the distance learning market.

Anyone that considers themselves an expert in their field can now easily create a course, many have a high cost but no certification.

How can you differentiate yourself from the competition? Adding value is usually a good business strategy. Certification, following the EADL’s quality standards and demonstrating a track record, via reviews or testimonials from previous students who have progressed their careers following your training all help with this

Marketing

The way we market courses has changed significantly over the last few years.  Social media now plays a part, but a successful social media strategy requires giving people value in order to show your expertise and knowledge.

Education and learning providers often struggle with the concept of giving away valuable course content for free as they have learners paying for the course content and feel it is much more valuable than other content available for free.

It is a good idea to find a balance, offering enough that you can display expertise and knowledge but not enough that they wont feel the need to pay for full course access.

Are there any other challenges that your organisations are facing? Let us know and we can explore these in more detail.

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