Erhan Aksoy

The Secret to Quality Online Learning

As the online learning industry goes mainstream, the question arises: Is it delivering a quality education experience?

October 6, 2008
Sponsored by CPE Link

by Erhan Aksoy

As the online learning industry goes mainstream, the question arises: Is it delivering a quality education experience? The answer? Not yet, but give it time to grow and online will surpass classroom education in many ways.

In a live classroom, the success of the learning experience has always been driven by the instructor’s knowledge and presentation skills, his/her organization of the material, and the face-to-face interactions with the students. Teachers may have progressed from the chalk board to the flipchart to overhead transparencies to PowerPoint presentations, but the essence has remained the lecture itself.

These same things that have supported good classroom learning for generations must be present in the online world in order to have a successful learning experience. Unfortunately, the first generation of online learning model has simply aimed at replicating the basics — delivering classroom instruction via technology — and not adding much value beyond some bells and whistles. The bar needs to be set much higher.

Tips on Improving Distance Learning

Once online providers start taking advantage of the tremendous tools that technology has to offer and build in more diverse elements into the educational experience, it will begin to shine — taking leaps beyond the traditional classroom.

Tomorrow’s best practices will include more than the required polling questions and PowerPoint slides seen in today’s Webcasts. As the underlying online technologies offer more interactivity features, such items will be incorporated into the learning experience.

Leading the Way

CPE Link, a new CPE provider offering online CPE via live Webcasts and online courses, is already delivering online education using:

  • Online breakout sessions for group work within the session;
  • Screen sharing for QuickBooks and Excel demonstrations;
  • Audio/video clips added to the presentation to engage learners; and
  • Instant messaging to create higher levels of interaction

Another trend is to create a hybrid of the old face-to-face instruction with new online learning formats. The goal is to use the best of both worlds through blended learning. As an example, a firm can offer training for new staff, which comprises self-study online courses, live Webcasts with instructors and traditional classroom based training. In response to market interest in both live Webcasts and online self-study, CPE Link now offers a Season Pass combining both methods of training for one annual fee.

This “instructional revolution” will really take off as the new millennial is not only the student, but starts to join the faculty as well. Growing up with technology, the next generation of teachers will bring an expectation for more digital delivery. In the CPE industry, this new model will require a retooling of the CPE measurement as well. The old rules of measuring classroom time in hours and independent study by testing comprehension will need to be updated.

For more information, visit www.cpelink.com.

Erhan Aksoy is the CEO for CPE Link — a new Web-based CPE provider focused on helping local, state and national accounting associations and firms offer online learning to their members and staff.