Understanding Key Features of Online Educational Platforms

The e-learning market is already vast, and with double digit annual growth on the cards for the foreseeable future and over a third of people participating in at least one form of online training scheme annually, there are more exciting times ahead in this niche.

This has led to a rapid rise in the number of platforms which offer online education to learners from every corner of the planet, and so picking between them is the first obstacle that would-be users have to overcome. With that in mind, here are just a few of the must-have features of such platforms, and an exploration of why they matter.

Enhancing User Accessibility Beyond Simple Navigation

User accessibility requires clear menus and intuitive interfaces, but this is just the beginning in terms of what’s really required to make an online education platform stand out. A comprehensive commitment to ensuring that everyone, regardless of ability or the device they’re using, can access the service effectively is crucial. Here’s what this involves.

Intuitive Design and Usability

Let’s start with design. Think about your favorite app – why do you love it? Chances are, it’s simple to navigate and pleasing to the eye. For online education platforms, you want to see the following:

  • Clean Interface: Minimalist designs reduce cognitive load.
  • Consistent Layout: Users learn faster when page layouts follow a predictable structure.

Example: Kaplan is one the top real estate prep courses because it excels with its straightforward UI that organizes courses without overwhelming users, and ensures they can easily find a scheme that’s suited to their specific region and area of interest.

Mobile Responsiveness

Today’s learners aren’t confined to desktops. They study on buses, in cafes, everywhere. In fact, 30% of people worldwide have smartphones on-hand. So platforms need to be mobile-friendly, which includes:

  • Adaptive Design: Ensures functionality across various devices from smartphones to tablets.
  • Fast Loading Times: Especially crucial for users on limited data plans.

Example: Duolingo’s mobile app has earned it over 500 million users by offering full features on-the-go, making language learning accessible anywhere.

Inclusivity Features

Accessibility also means accommodating users with disabilities, who make up 27% of the population. This covers aspects like:

  • Screen Reader Compatibility: Content must be readable by screen readers for visually impaired students.
  • Captioned Videos: These are beneficial not only for deaf students but also non-native speakers or those in noisy environments.

Example: 360learning is a business-focused learning platform that earns its accessibility credentials thanks to offering videos with subtitles natively, and also allowing participants to submit video assessments if this is easier for them.

Multiple Language Support

Providing content in multiple languages is another plus point for any wannabe online educational platform, as well as an array of other software types, including travel apps. Services in the learning sphere can shine if they:

  • Offer localization options so learners choose their preferred language.
  • Ensure translation quality doesn’t compromise educational content integrity.

Advanced Content Curation and Quality Assurance Methods

Effective content curation is a strategic process and a means of guaranteeing that only the highest quality material makes it to learners. Here’s what top-level services can offer.

Smart Algorithms for Content Curation

Imagine walking into a library where books you need are laid out for you. That’s what advanced algorithms do on educational platforms. This includes:

  • Personalized Recommendations: Using machine learning, platforms can suggest courses or modules tailored to individual progress.
  • Relevance Filtering: These algorithms sift through vast amounts of data to surface the most relevant content.

Example: Coursera uses recommendations that adapt based on user behavior and preferences, creating a custom learning journey for each student. No wonder it managed to grow its revenues by 21% last year.

Expert-Led Course Development

Quality assurance begins with who creates the content. Engaging industry experts ensures material is both current and authoritative.

What’s particularly important here is the peer review process. This involves experts vetting each other’s work to maintain high standards. It’s a common theme across academia in traditional settings, and works just as well online.

Example: MIT OpenCourseWare makes the most of faculty expertise across diverse fields, thus delivering top-notch course material quality from reputable sources.

Continuous Content Updates

Static content becomes outdated fast, particularly at a time where 78% of people are convinced that the pace of change we’re experiencing today is overwhelming, according to a GlobalScan report. As such, keeping material fresh is crucial.

To do this, the best platforms will:

  • Review courses and teaching materials on a regular basis.
  • Aim to integrate current events as part of this process.

Example: edX consistently updates its courses by incorporating recent research findings and emerging trends, staying ahead by providing a relevant education to those that use it.

User Feedback

Learners’ insights are very instructive in terms of improving course quality. Platforms that actively solicit feedback are able to refine their offerings effectively. There are two main ways to do this:

  • In-course surveys
  • Post-completion evaluations

This approach is much the same as the way customer reviews are used to help improve products. Students have an active part to play in fine-tuning educational experiences for their peers who come after them.

Support

The last thing to mention in this context is that online educational platforms are only as good as the support they offer, even if the content material quality is consistently high.

Ways for students to get in touch should include:

  • Email or phone for responses provided by human support team members.
  • Chatbot interactions for dealing with more basic FAQs, and providing support out of hours.

The Bottom Line

By this point you should be equipped with enough info to go out there and assess the various online educational platforms available to you on their own merits, as well as in comparison with the rest of the market.

You should of course take the opportunity to save time by reading up on independent reviews of competing platforms to get a sense of whether they live up to the hype. But don’t be afraid to form your own opinions and impressions by getting hands-on experience of them as well.

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  • About the Curator

    Abelino Silva. Seeker of the truth. Purveyor of facts. Mongrel to the deceitful. All that, and mostly a blogger who enjoys acknowledging others that publish great content. Say hello 🙂

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