At any moment in a person’s professional sphere it can turn out so that the acquired knowledge and experience isn’t enough and there is a necessity to acquire certain more specific knowledge. Their senior manager can also decide that it’s time to improve professional skills of employees and send them to courses. Most likely this would be online courses for professional improvement as nowadays this is the most feasible way of on-the-job-training. An employee becomes a student for the time of the training. There are two variants of student’s typical behavior:
- A student enjoys studying, learns the course materials thoroughly and applies the acquired knowledge in practice when back on the working place.
- A student is disappointed, it wasn’t his intention to study at the moment, he has no motivation or probably is simply lazy.
In the first variant the quality of course materials doesn’t influence the student as he wants to acquire the knowledge and will do it not matter what form of presentation is.
The second situation is more difficult. Everything here depends on the presentation of materials. It defines if the student will be able to master the knowledge or simply skip through the learning materials and get a course certificate that he won’t be able to sustain with knowledge.
Is it possible to control the extent to which student masters the knowledge during the online training? And if yes, then how?
Learning courses can be organized in different ways. Let’s take a closer look at two variants.
The first course will be a linear slide course and a student will take it without any effort as there will be only theory, video, presentations and perhaps some training simulators (see image 1). Upon course completion the student will receive a certificate, bring it to his employer and everyone will be satisfied (at least at first, until the lack of employee’s new knowledge is revealed). It’s practically impossible to teach someone something if the person doesn’t need that. Or is this wrong? Are there certain key factors that allow to influence a student besides endlessly reminding ‘you have to learn this, just learn this’?
Image 1. An example of a linear slide course
We can see in the scheme that the course is monotonous. The modules here are groups of materials divided by topic. There are no quizzes or conditions that should be completed in order to proceed from one module to another. An example of such a course is a standard catalogue with materials divided by topics and placed in subfolders. A student (employee, learner) will simply leaf through the steps of the course Learning Paths and at best will pay attention to only some of the topics and then forget everything at once.
Still if you organize a course thoroughly, add control steps without completing which you won’t be able to proceed to the next module or receive a certificate then a student (employee) will have to learn and master the material (see image 2). If there are progress control steps then students have additional motivation: if they don’t master it they won’t pass the test and if they don’t pass the test they won’t complete the course and get a certificate and accordingly the employer won’t be happy about that… In this case a student can pass the tests and then forget everything still but at least he learns something first.
Image 2. An example of a linear slide course with progress control between the course modules
In JoomlaLMS there is an opportunity to create a Learning Path and set conditions for its steps. For example the first module is our first Learning Path. After adding the first Learning Path you need only to add the necessary materials and set the conditions for completing the module. For example user needs to take all 5 steps one by one in order to have access to the test and only if the test is passed the module will be completed. We can create a separate Learning Path containing only the test that should be passed in order for the course to be completed and specify in course completion criteria only this Learning Path. We can also set pre-requisites on this Learning Path with the test so that users could access it only after completing all other modules first.
Course can be made more varied. You can intercept theoretical material with mini-tests inside the module. They can contain few questions but you need to make sure the answers aren’t obvious so that the student would go back and re-check the material if required.
Anyway it is necessary to set conditions as otherwise student can skip modules and start taking the test without having the necessary knowledge as he skipped the material. This can facilitate a decrease in the education quality.
In one of the future versions of JoomlaLMS new functionality will be added that will allow to set conditions not only inside the course but on the courses themselves. For example if a student needs to complete three courses he won’t have access to the next two before he passes the first one. As soon as a student receives a certificate for the first course he can access the next one. This functionality will work in the same way as setting conditions for Learning Paths and their steps. And inside the course the student can’t see the second module till he completes the first one etc.
Thus when you use the conditions in courses the quality of education rises. In combination with high quality of course resources this can ensure not only the high level of students’ knowledge but good reputation of your eLearning centre as well.