Executive Summary: Read on to understand how to succeed in content creation and delivery for a synchronous MOOC, virtual instructor-led training (VILT). This blog will be useful to all those who want to offer online learning. My experience of learning from the MOOC portals, my pursuit of VILT courses, and guiding the content development for one have pushed me in the direction thinking about how to create a successful VILT, a type of MOOC. Hence this blog.
Covid-19 has made it mandatory for students across India and the globe to adopt online leanring in a big way. It is not farfetched to say that the topic of online learning and online learning itself are at the centre of the knowledge economy as of May 2020.
What is a MOOC
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are courses hosted on a technology-enabled platform to support learning at scale, that is thousands of students can access and use the courses simultaneously. This is achieved through hosting recorded video content and text-based content, either made or curated by the teachers. And then a course is hosted on a technology platform that supports any number of enrollments.
Why MOOCs are Popular
Effectively, this arrangement brings down the cost of education, brings it to the doorsteps of students, and greatly eliminates the need for large numbers of teaching staff. Also, the priceless teachings of great teachers are available to students of all geographies.
Types of MOOCs
There are many types of MOOCs. The two major forms are here: Asynchronous Massive Online Courses (AMOCs) include pre-recorded, short video lectures, class materials, and assignments, whereas Synchronous Massive Online Courses (SMOCs) include live sessions of lectures. VILT belongs to the second category of learning.
Enterprises are the early adopters of Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) to benefit from expert coaching that came with a low cost of delivery. On the other hand, in an attempt to attract students from across the globe, many universities started delivering some of their short duration programmes as online programs in the VILT mode. Today, you can find Ph.D, master’s and bachelors programme online. While their delivery methods vary, they have undoubtedly made online education a thing worth considering to avoid student debt and accommodate work schedules of students who foot their college bills.
The Indian government established Swayam to promote online learning from class 9 through master’s. You need not pay any money to pursue a course. However, to obtain a certificate, you must meet the criteria laid down by the teaching organization and pay for taking the exam and obtaining the certificate. For example, to obtain a senior secondary certificate in library sciences, you have to register and clear a couple of other subjects as well.
Seven IITs and IISc came together to establish National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL). NPTEL has been offering open online courses to all since March 2014. It contains both web-based and video-based content and in-person proctored exams to facilitate certification. To obtain certification, you must complete the assignments presented throughout the course and also appear for the certification exam. The certification exams are held in 100+ cities across India. A nominal fee of 1000 rupees is charged per exam.
What is Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT)
In a virtual instructor-led training, the professor teaches in real-time while the students log in from across the globe. (Many schools and colleges in India are now following this model and have ventured into online learning. Though Indian schools are familiar with Digital content, they have never delivered classes totally online.)
To make a successful VILT, teachers must focus on content creation and delivery:
- The students represent a wide variety of age groups, learning styles, and maturity levels. Therefore, the course should be built with a sharp focus and a thorough understanding of what should be delivered for each category of learners.
- The class size should be limited, and the mentor would need a moderator who would answer the questions.
- Evaluation of the content created by the students is another area that needs significant resources. Also, some courses typically need more performance support than the others. The support extended to the students is bound to come back in raving reviews for the organizer.
- The content quality is an area that the course organizer should focus on. With MOOC platforms like FutureLearn and Coursera setting high standards in course content and delivery, learners expect a minimum level of content quality. The VILT organizer should set and manage the participant expectations about the content standards.
- The instructor’s experience and presence make a huge difference in the successful delivery of the course content. Therefore, when designing a VILT, the course organizer should ensure that the instructor is someone who is an expert or a seasoned professional with loads of experience in a relevant field. Or, if the mentor is a junior person, they should be trained in team dynamics and facilitating conversations.
- Equally important are the instructor’s skills in managing the VILT technology. Dysfunctional technology or the instructor’s inability to troubleshoot can take away precious hours off the class time and in turn affect the experience and course reviews.
- One of the best outcomes of VILT is the creation of a community. However, if the organizer chooses to monitor the community, the efforts are directly proportional to the vibrancy of this space. Each batch of learners evolve into a close-knit social group, and the cooperation among the members lasts much longer, if not for a lifetime.
Virtual Instructor-Led Training, or any form of synchronous training for that matter, is the ideal method of training when the students need a lot of time with the teachers and guidance. In this sense, it comes close to the classroom teaching. While not very scalable in terms of time, it certainly eliminates the geographic boundaries in bringing the mentors and mentees together. Quality content, management of participant expectations, and support for community activities can make this model a runaway success.
Highly customized and dynamic learning can go a long way in creating a skilled society. Talk to us to know more about how we can help you succeed with MOOC content creation.