Online learning involves a lot of preparation and adjustments for all key stakeholders, including educators, students and guardians. Is your school ready for the new normal in education? Make your transition to eLearning as smooth as possible with the best online learning platforms.
Many institutions are still reeling from the global slowdown triggered by the coronavirus. As we adapt to the new wave, many countries across the world are torn between closing schools, colleges and universities temporarily or keeping them open to maintain the economy.
According to a Pearson study, more than 300 million students globally are affected by the educational disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Data collected via the RAND Corporation’s American Educator Panels (AEP) revealed that among the biggest challenges in continuing education amidst the crisis are the disparities in educational opportunities.
The study highlighted that:
• Only 12 percent of teachers would cover the full curriculum because of limited resources and face-to-face interaction.
• 66 percent of educators reported that students do not have access to devices and reliable internet connection necessary to participate in online classes.
Digital literacy, technical issues, time management and motivation are also among the common challenges facing eLearning participants. Despite these obstacles, everyone is learning to adapt to online learning. Many educators, for one, have invested in online learning tools to streamline their transition from traditional classroom setups to online classes.
Looking for eLearning tools to support your distance education? In this post, we listed the best online learning platforms and their pros and cons to help you find the right tools for your online class. We discuss:
• What is eLearning
• The advantages of using online learning tools
• The best online learning platforms for each educational stage
• Tips for successful integration of online learning tools into distance learning
Read on and discover the best online learning platforms in 2020.
eLearning: The New Normal in Education
eLearning is not a new concept. This learning system was introduced in 1999 at a computer-based training (CBT) systems seminar. Initially, online learning systems were set up to deliver information to students. Throughout the years, distance learning has become more interactive. Since its inception, other terms have also emerged in the search for an accurate description, including “online learning,” “distance education,” “internet learning” and “virtual learning.”
eLearning utilizes electronic media to provide learning opportunities outside of a traditional classroom. In most cases, distance learning refers to a program delivered entirely online. This learning system aims to bridge geographical gaps using online learning tools that make students feel as if they are inside a classroom.
Aside from educational institutions, businesses and other organizations also utilize eLearning for a variety of reasons:
• Employee training
• Compliance training
• Partner training
• Customer training
eLearning is a cost-effective learning method that eliminates the need for costly printed course materials and onsite facilities. Online classes help educators and students save time, improve performance and enhance productivity. With a high demand for eLearning solutions worldwide, the online learning market is expected to reach $275 billion by 2022.
While you may not be able to conduct classes in lecture halls or laboratories, this doesn’t mean your online courses would be less interactive. When done right, distance learning could promote student-centered education. Online learning platforms are built to facilitate online discussions and make course materials easily accessible to students whenever they need them.
The Advantages of Using Online Learning Platforms
Today, many schools and universities have canceled all in-person classes to slow the spread of coronavirus. As a result, many organizations have invested in eLearning digital marketing and eLearning pay-per-click management to promote their online courses and help educators and students improve their teaching and learning approaches.
The shift to online classes has also increased the popularity of online learning platforms. eLearning tools were developed to support the rising demands and training needs of various organizations.
Here are some of the advantages of using eLearning platforms for online education:
• Reduced pressure
• More opportunities for interaction
• Novel learning techniques
• Parent-teacher communication
• 24/7 availability
• Systematic learning
• Portability and sustainability
• Staying connected
Throughout the years, the influence of technology on the education system has been immense. Thanks to online learning platforms, educational institutions can now save on costs and students have more opportunities to interact with their teachers and grasp difficult concepts.
The Best Online Learning Platforms in 2020
The key to maximizing the benefits of eLearning tools and facilitating effective distance learning is finding the right online learning platforms that serve your purpose. To help you get started, we’ve listed the best distance learning tools (paid and free) available right now.
Thrive identified the top eLearning tools for different educational stages:
EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
Students between 3-6 years old
ABCmouse is one of the highly-recommended eLearning tools for kids age 2 to 8. This online learning platform provides a comprehensive curriculum on math, science, reading, art and social studies. ABCmouse has more than 850 lessons and over 9,000 kids’ learning activities divided into 10 progressive levels.
|+ Offers several payment options||– Paid|
|+ Fully-interactive||– Incentivized learning can be distracting for some students|
|+ Tickets and rewards system that keep kids motivated||– Busy interface|
|+ Learning-through-play experiences, such as games, animations, songs, puzzles and art activities|
|+ Extensive catalog of early learning activities|
|+ No ads or external links|
|+ A subscription includes registration for up to three children|
|+ Allows multiple child users per family|
Khan Academy Kids is an eLearning platform designed to help children develop their foundational skills. It is a comprehensive early learning resource that makes it easy for kids to immerse themselves in learning through songs, videos, books and games. Khan Academy Kids serves as a large database of activities in math, socio-emotional learning, creative expression and English language arts (ELA).
|+ Free and accessible||– Provides only basic feedback on student’s progress|
|+ Variety of learning topics — core subjects to essential skills|
|+ Creative learning approaches|
|+ Fun illustrations|
|+ Clear instructions and narration|
|+ Available on Android and iOS|
3. YouTube Kids
YouTube Kids is one of the best free online learning tools that offer engaging educational content aimed at preschoolers to tweens. This eLearning platform features curated educational videos, TV shows, music and user-created content. Parents can sign up for a YouTube Red subscription so kids can watch videos offline without ads.
|+ Free||– Unrelated, inappropriate videos and ads in some cases|
|+ Fun, engaging content||– Requires parental control|
|+ Variety of learning topics|
|+ Easy navigation|
|+ Parental control features|
|+ Available in Android and iOS|
Grade 1 to Grade 8
Google Classroom is one of the most efficient ways to facilitate distance learning. This online learning platform leverages Google’s ecosystem of tools, such as Google Docs, Slides and Sheets, to allow content sharing between teachers and students.
Using this online learning tool, teachers can post and manage assignments, review submitted tasks and edit grades with ease. Google Classroom is an excellent platform that every educator could use to easily monitor class requirements and share access to course materials.
|+ Free||– No standards-based grading options|
|+ Easy-to-learn interface||– Limited integration|
|+ Separate class code for each classroom||– No tutorials|
|+ Excellent content management features||– Limited grading options|
|+ Easy setup|
|+ Date/time stamp for project submissions|
5. Khan Academy
Khan Academy is an eLearning platform known for its complete math curricula. It provides grade-level programs focused on math, history, science and economics. This online learning tool is ideal in facilitating remote education for grade-schoolers.
|+ Free and accessible||– Less interactive|
|+ User-friendly||– One teaching style — videos|
|+ Systematic progression of skills||– Video instructions may be too fast-paced for some|
|+ Well-designed courses|
|+ Advanced Placement (AP) test prep|
|+ Wide variety of subjects|
|+ Mastery-focused assignments|
MentalUP Educational Games is one of the best eLearning platforms that offer reliable scientific and educational games. This online learning tool was developed to support the cognitive development of children between four and 13 years old.
|+ Blends entertainment and education||– All graphics are 2D — some students prefer more engaging graphics|
|+ Research-based cognitive stimuli||– Other children may find it difficult to draw the line between entertainment and learning|
|+ Over 100 games available|
|+ Allows performance tracking|
|+ Accessible on computers and mobile devices|
|+ Suitable for children of all ages|
Grade 9 to Senior High School
Edmodo is a web-based distance learning tool that allows real-time feedback, content sharing and classroom management. Teachers, parents and students can create an Edmodo account to access learning materials, view announcements and engage in classroom polls and discussions. Edmodo serves as an excellent eLearning platform to help raise student confidence, encourage interactions and stay in sync with teachers.
|+ Free but also offers premium services||– Ads on website|
|+ User-friendly interface||– Software compatibility issues|
|+ Easy navigation and content sharing|
|+ Reliable customer support|
|+ Good controls — i.e., student access restrictions and read-only abilities|
|+ Award badges for excellent online class performance|
|+ Planner features — to keep track of priorities and assignments|
Duolingo is an online learning tool designed to help individuals hone their language skills. This educational app allows users to learn languages, such as Spanish, Dutch, French, English, Italian, Irish and Danish. Duolingo is a great eLearning tool that students can use to practice their reading and speaking skills and ace their language courses.
|+ Free||– Glitches on spoken responses|
|+ 95 different language courses in 38 languages||– No content overview to orient language learners|
|+ Promotes gamified learning||– Does not allow self-correction|
|+ Integrates well with other language courses|
|+ Promotes reading, speaking and listening comprehension|
|+ Immediate feedback and corrections on mistakes|
|+ Provides supplementary materials|
TEDEd is a “lesson creator” platform that allows teachers and students to produce short video lessons to supplement their online classes. Users also have the option to utilize available video lessons published by other individuals. This eLearning platform is useful in keeping students focused on lessons and boosting their creativity in online class presentations.
|+ Free||– Video lesson content quality varies|
|+ Simplifies complex lessons|
|+ Makes technical subjects fun|
|+ Engaging animations|
|+ Unlimited class size|
|+ Clean interface|
|+ Device compatibility — does not require plugins|
|+ Relatable explainer videos|
|+ Diverse topics|
|+ Comprehension questions|
College and University Students
Udemy is one of the largest online learning platforms that cater to more than 50 million students worldwide. This eLearning platform provides access to over 150,000 courses created by experts. It covers a variety of topics, including marketing, design, business, music and photography. Using this educational platform, you can also host your own course content. Udemy is the right eLearning tool for individuals aiming to learn specific skills or complement their studies. This eLearning platform is also recommended for instructors who want to publish their own courses.
|+ Affordable — courses range from $19.99 to $199.99||– Price varies per course|
|+ Access to personal learning recommendations||– Required time-commitment on some courses|
|+ 6,700 free courses||– Courses not available offline|
|+ 30-day refund policy|
|+ Wide variety of courses taught in over 65 languages|
|+ Lifetime access to every course purchased|
|+ Certificate of completion for paid courses|
|+ Available in app form|
|+ Preview videos and syllabus|
|+ Star ratings on each course|
Coursera provides a range of university and industry-created courses to more than 50 million students across the globe. It has partnered with top-ranked institutions, such as Yale, Princeton and the University of Michigan, to offer more than 4,100 college-level courses, including business, data science, information technology (IT) and math and logic. This online learning platform is recommended for college and university students to hone their critical thinking skills, analysis and argumentation.
|+ Free courses||– Need for forum moderation|
|+ Low cost of entry — individual courses range from $29 to $99||– Peer grading system|
|+ Courses consist of video lectures, group discussion forums, reading materials and peer-reviewed assignments||– Limited languages|
|+ Certificate for paid courses|
|+ No speed limit|
|+ Accredited university degrees|
|+ Flexible class schedule|
|+ Course assessments|
edX is a distance learning platform that offers online classes and massive open online courses (MOOC) from the world’s top universities, such as Harvard, Berkeley and MIT. It provides more than 3,000 courses and programs from 140 institutions. This eLearning platform is excellent for individuals interested in university-level online courses.
|+ Free online courses||– Certificates are available only for verified paid track with a passing grade|
|+ Easy-to-navigate||– Master’s programs are quite expensive — can range from $50 to $300|
|+ A wide variety of university-level courses|
|+ Verified certificates|
|+ Beginner and advanced-level courses|
|+ Available financial aid|
|+ Multi-language support|
|+ Available English subtitles for videos|
|+ Downloadable courses|
|+ edX app available for Android and iOS|
Individuals looking for academic or professional degrees, certificates or diplomas
Skillshare is an eLearning platform that allows individuals to access short classes about various topics, including animation, photography, design, writing and business. It is one of the best online learning platforms for those who want to learn or improve their skills.
|+ Free two-month trial||– Monthly subscription fee for premium access|
|+ Affordable — premium fee starts at $12 per month||– Courses are not accredited|
|+ More than 2,100 free classes with videos and tutorials||– Free membership does not give access to workshops|
|+ Free mobile apps||– Teaching styles vary|
|+ Unlimited access to over 200,000 online courses for premium subscribers|
|+ Courses created by experts|
|+ Relatively short classes|
|+ Offline access|
|+ No ads|
LinkedIn Learning is an online learning platform recommended for professionals aiming to expand their knowledge while working. This eLearning platform offers business-related courses created by industry professionals.
|+ One-month free trial||– Certificates are not accredited|
|+ Certificates available||– Requires monthly subscriptions to access all resources|
|+ Easy cancellation of learning plans||– Problematic editing of courses|
|+ Huge library of content created by industry experts|
|+ High-quality training resources|
|+ Promotes self-paced learning|
Udacity is an online learning platform that focuses on IT-related courses, such as programming, artificial intelligence and computer science. It offers around 200 courses and hosts more than 150,000 enrolled students.
|+ Free and paid course series||– Quite expensive — Nanodegrees cost $399 per month|
|+ Job-focused content||– Limited range of topics|
|+ Hands-on programming work||– No certificate for free courses|
|+ Self-paced learning||– No app version|
|+ Nanodegrees with expert interviews|
|+ Strong mentor support|
|+ Discussion forums|
These eLearning platforms can help you promote better online class interactions and encourage students to leverage their time at home to improve their knowledge and skills in fun ways. Find the right online learning tools for your remote class and provide your students with the best possible eLearning experience.
How to Effectively Integrate eLearning Platforms into Your Online Classes
Now that you have the appropriate eLearning platforms, the next step is to introduce these online learning tools to your students. Many learners can be a bit apprehensive about participating in online classes and adopting new technology. Fret not.
Here are some tips to help you make distance learning more efficient with eLearning platforms:
• Find the right distance learning platform
Make sure to read online reviews and watch YouTube tutorials to determine the best online learning tools for your class; additionally, assess each platform’s eLearning web design, interface and ease-of-use.
• Understand how each eLearning tool works
Ensure you know how your chosen online learning platform works before you introduce it to your class, so you can answer any question that your students may have about the platform.
• Ensure your students are equipped technically
Before you present a new online learning tool to your class, conduct polls or surveys to determine if they can access the distance learning tools you’re going to propose.
• Promote effective time management skills
Dedicate time for your online classes and planned activities and recommend schedules to your students in using eLearning tools to support remote education.
• Set ground rules early on
Doing so helps ensure these online learning platforms do not serve as distractions to your students.
• Host an introductory class in using online learning platforms
Almost everyone is adjusting to the demands of eLearning so it will be helpful to dedicate a day or two in explaining how to navigate these online learning tools.
• Integrate these eLearning platforms into your online classes
Leverage online learning tools to interact with your students; provide assignments or quizzes using these platforms.
BONUS TIPS FOR STUDENTS:
– Explore other eLearning tools to support your online classes
– Find a conducive study place in your house to stay focused
– Avoid distractions, such as cell phones, games and television during online classes
Make Your Transition to Online Classes a Success
Thrive Internet Marketing Agency is your partner in eLearning search engine optimization (SEO) and digital marketing. We help you promote your online classes to your target audience and create a good impression of your organization by implementing data-driven eLearning social media marketing and digital advertising campaigns.
Our team constantly produces valuable content and develops new strategies to help you navigate this changing market’s demands. Contact us today to learn more about our eLearning digital marketing services.