Distance Learning

Report: Clear Objectives and Ease of Use Key to Successful Online Courses

Online courses should state the course objectives clearly and provide easy-to-use technology to maximize the chances of student success, according to a recent survey conducted by Eduventures.

Eduventures is a research and advisory company with a focus on higher education. In the spring of 2015, the company surveyed 28,000 students, mostly over age 25, who are pursuing an online degree or certificate. Based on the results of the survey, the company identified key factors contributing to high or low academic performance in online programs and came up with a list of recommendations to help educational institutions foster student success in those programs.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • 70 percent of high performing students said clear course objectives or expectations were important to their success;
  • 64 percent of high performers said easy-to-use technology was important;
  • 54 percent of high performers said good course pacing was important;
  • 44 percent of high performers said attention from faculty was important;
  • 27 percent of high performers said peer interaction was important;
  • 11 percent of high performers said tutoring services was important;
  • 65 percent of low performing students said distractions by family and personal obligations hindered their success;
  • 20 percent of low performers said courses were too fast-paced;
  • 18 percent of low performers said they lacked interest or motivation; and
  • 17 percent of low performers said course objectives were unclear.

Based on the survey results, Eduventures' recommendations for online education programs include:

  • Aligning courses with objective design standards;
  • Following a quality assurance process before and after designing a course "to ensure objectives and expectations inform every aspect of the student experience'; and
  • Making effective use of a learning management system (LMS).

Further information about the survey can be found on the Eduventures blog.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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