Whilst choosing an eLearning platform for your specific organisation’s needs may seem like a complex task, with some careful consideration and an idea of the digital education market, you can ensure that you’re able to continue providing learners and staff with the opportunity to develop their skills and hone their understanding.
The digital education industry truly showed how indispensable it was during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the digital transformation in education was already well underway even prior to the beginning of the 2020s. As learners' needs continue to develop and digital education evolves into a dynamic environment that can cater to the requirements of learners across the globe, eLearning platform development is allowing educators to deliver productive, engaging educational experiences.
This guide explores how an organisation can settle on the correct eLearning platform by assessing their needs before discussing some of the most popular offerings in the digital education market, their benefits, and what organisations can expect to pay to begin leveraging them inside and outside of the classroom.
How can an eLearning Platform Revolutionise Learning?
eLearning platform development has markedly advanced over the last few years—driving the digital transformation in education through incorporating emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automated plagiarism detection into comprehensive, often cloud-based software solutions.
Alongside this, the designers, developers, and coordinators bringing new eLearning companies and their products to market are working in closer collaboration with subject matter experts through advances in hybrid and remote co-working, enabling knowledge producers to enrich the content of these virtual courses, training, and digital education experiences.
An eLearning platform can help to accommodate the needs of a diverse student body, especially given the way that these needs have evolved during the pandemic:
- eLearning platforms have increased the ability for educators to offer personalised, 1-2-1 tuition. This is proving especially helpful in particularly problematic subject areas impacted by the pandemic, such as literacy or numeracy.
- The ability to offer course modules and additional resources which can be accessed at an individual learner’s preferred pace. This increases students’ engagement and their ability to gain knowledge since they can always return to previous lectures or tutorials if they’re struggling or preparing for examinations.
- eLearning solutions and their content can be tailored according to classroom or instructor needs. This can be guided by how your learners respond—with digital education platforms offering multiple channels of learning from videos to the spoken word—such as podcasts or lecture recordings—or text-based experiences.
- Virtual learning environments encourage collaboration between students. Through the incorporation of discussion boards and comment sections, students can discuss courses and their solutions to problems together, preparing them for the collaboration they’ll encounter in the workplace.
An eLearning platform can help students to complete work assigned outside of core educational hours. 43% of US college students find eLearning solutions help them complete their assigned coursework effectively, and 81% agree that the digital transformation in education has helped them to improve their grades. In short, eLearning companies are playing a vital role in ensuring students continue to attain success.
In addition to these benefits for learners, the push for digital education and eLearning solutions means that educators are increasingly able to offer personalised and prompt feedback to students, enabling them to complete their administrative duties effectively and flexibly whilst tracking key attainment metrics over the course of the academic year. Meanwhile, the shift towards cloud-based VLEs has meant that maintenance costs have diminished, with technical issues now able to be solved rapidly and remotely.
How to Assess Your eLearning Needs
It’s important that organisations understand how to assess their eLearning needs before they begin to evaluate the different eLearning solutions on the market. But how can this be done for further and higher education institutions, such as colleges, universities, and centres of professional training and accreditation?
Any successful digital education strategy will, first and foremost, need to incorporate both technical expertise and subject matter knowledge—a comprehensive eLearning platform experience will suffer if learners and staff are unable to utilise the service effectively due to bugs or poor performance, whilst learners will gain little from a smooth experience on a platform with a dearth of educational content.
In short, it’s important to understand your personnel requirements.
The rollout of a tech-forward eLearning platform is going to require a technical lead. Whilst you may believe that your current computing teaching staff are able to support this role, it’s important to establish whether teaching timetables will allow for this critical role to be filled by a teacher, particularly as hundreds—or even thousands—of students start to utilise the platform on a daily basis.
Understanding whether you require a technical lead—and you understand the talent pool for these professionals—will be the first step in assessing your eLearning needs.
Alongside this, you may wish to acquire a learning lead that can work across multiple educational disciplines, collaborating with your classroom teaching staff to ensure that the digital education experience can support teaching staff in their in-person duties.
The digital learning lead can help you to understand whether existing teaching staff require training to take full advantage of the eLearning solutions at their fingertips, helping your organisation to quickly adapt to this digital transformation in education.
There are a number of other steps you’ll need to take, beyond staffing and the consideration of your current skills gaps, to ensure that your digital education strategy can succeed:
- Think about utilising your existing rubric to understand the criteria by which your proposed eLearning solutions can be assessed. This can be a good way for your teaching staff and learners to illustrate what really makes a difference in their educational experiences and what a quality VLE looks like for them.
- Ensure your proposed eLearning solutions are fit for purpose by ensuring that they’re increasing accessibility. An eLearning platform is an excellent way to increase participation, especially for students who, due to an existing disability or personal circumstances, may be unable to attend in-person lectures—but it’s important to be confident that your online portals are following accessibility best practices, such as those published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
- Consider how your proposed eLearning platform will integrate with your other learning management systems. Will they work well with the ways that you currently distribute work to students online, track attendance, or measure attainment? Many of the tools we’ll explore in the next section are Learning Tools Interoperability-compliant, meaning they should integrate seamlessly with your current LMS, allowing for the back-and-forth sharing of data.
Alongside these crucial points to reflect on before choosing an eLearning platform, it’s important to consider data security—and the duty your organisation has to keep safe the personal information your students and staff provide when signing up or signing in to their eLearning account.
Data privacy breaches can not only be fiscally costly, but they can also significantly harm your reputation as an education provider, so it’s important to ensure that you have adequate skills to protect your users.
What eLearning Platform is Right for Your Organisation?
So, now that you’ve assessed your needs and understood the impact that eLearning solutions are having on the digital transformation in education, you’re ready to explore the latest offerings from eLearning companies—in this list, we’ll discuss some of the positives that leveraging these VLEs can provide to learners and staff and also highlight the average cost of these technologies.
Moodle is an open-source and free LMS used to enhance approaches to blended learning and virtual education within schools and universities. Written in PHP and released under the GNU General Public License, it can be scaled to support organisations of all sizes, from the smallest to the largest classroom. It’s most commonly used to create custom online courses, and provides users and learning designers with a range of plugins to generate engaging and inclusive eLearning experiences.
A major benefit of Moodle is its flexibility—users and developers have created a wide range of inbuilt features, integrations, and plugins which can be customised to the user’s content, ensuring the learning environment is tailored to their student’s specific needs. Alongside this, Moodle is built on a security and accessibility-first model, ensuring that users’ privacy is protected and knowledge can be accessed regardless of background.
The good news: Moodle is completely free. Released under an open-source model, it often requires more setup than out-of-the-box solutions, but once it has been set up, it won’t cost higher education institutions anything to run—beyond, of course, the cost of a Moodle developer if they choose to keep them as permanent employees.
Moodle was created with teachers, educators, and others in the learning environment in mind. It was designed to put fully customisable, engaging courses online quickly and easily, allowing students to be engaged through a broad range of multimedia and accessibility options.
2. Alta by Knewton
Knewton, an increasingly respected name amongst eLearning companies, claims that its Alta eLearning platform can adapt to learners’ dynamic needs and proficiency levels, identifying and reporting knowledge gaps to teaching staff and providing feedback to students to highlight where they can improve their skills. The instructor dashboard which Alta uses allows instructors to see, at a glance, how close learners are to achieving key learning outcomes at the course, classroom, and individual student levels.
Alta helps students to recognise their own knowledge gaps, highlighting areas for further study whilst encouraging them to continue with assessments and coursework—meaning that educators can be confident that learners are receiving precise tuition in the areas they need the most help with. Alongside this, by not requiring students to complete “diagnostic” assignments to tune the software to their individual needs—instead performing continuous assessment on their answers—teachers can be certain that all work being completed is contributing towards their intended learning outcomes.
Alta offers three tiers of payments for different educational needs, such as short-term summer bootcamps or longer educational courses that will take place over multiple semesters, beginning at around $10.95 for single-student access.
Alta is perfect for institutions that are looking for a way to rapidly onboard learners and ensures that their digital education activities are focused on their weakest areas.
Querium’s focus is on eLearning solutions that help students master STEM subjects, providing a mobile learning platform that delivers personalised, short-form digital education experiences and practice tests, with an AI-enhanced virtual tutoring technology—known as StepWise—providing learners with round-the-clock, affordable access to education.
The course content offered by Querium is bespoke, tailored by experts in artificial intelligence, science, and mathematics to offer a learning experience that is as close to the classroom or lecture hall as possible—effectively integrating with existing learning management systems such as Blackboard and Moodle to give instructors full oversight over their students’ learning activities.
Querium requires organisations to contact them to discuss pricing.
Querium is ideal for organisations with an established learning management system and looking for a STEM-focused educational product that integrates well with this existing LMS.
4. Google Classroom
Google’s Classroom product will be familiar to educators who had to rapidly shift towards remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. The software giant’s eLearning platform was designed to be user-friendly for teachers to encourage students to collaborate on their coursework, support learning, and personalise their digital education.
Classroom allows educators to utilise existing learning resources such as PDFs to create new, interactive assignments and provide real-time feedback to students. Google has also integrated its AI technologies into its eLearning solutions, meaning that learners can receive individualised feedback and see when their work requires citations to avoid unintentional plagiarism. Alongside these features, Classroom can help students to develop crucial time-management skills through interactive to-do lists and additional productivity tools.
Google Classroom is free as part of their Google for Education Fundamentals package, whilst enterprise users can pay up to $5.00 per month, per user, for additional resources and integrations.
Google Classroom is ideal for educational institutions looking to trial an eLearning platform with their free Fundamentals package. It integrates well with existing learning management systems, whilst the paid tiers allow for greater numbers of users to tune into live-streamed lectures and lessons.
5. LinkedIn Learning
Learning is LinkedIn’s eLearning platform which aims to offer learners access to the skills they’ll need in the workplace and provides teachers and support staff with the ability to track student outcomes and gain real-time insights into the skills their students are developing. The digital education platform is currently home to 16,000 courses, with industry-expert instructors providing content in several major languages, including English, Spanish, French, and Mandarin.
Introducing students to LinkedIn at an early stage is beneficial, particularly since ever greater numbers of employers—including 100% of the Fortune 500—are leveraging the platform to seek out candidates for roles at all levels of seniority. Alongside this, educators can upload their own videos and documents to enrich and enhance the courses being studied through LinkedIn’s library, helping to contextualise the knowledge students are receiving.
LinkedIn Learning costs depend on the number of users, but smaller groups—requiring 20 or fewer licenses—can expect to pay around $380.00 per seat per year.
LinkedIn Learning is ideal for institutions and educators that want to provide learners with in-demand, industry-vetted skills and knowledge. Alongside this, it’s perfect for learners who are aiming to build a personal brand and want to begin building their professional network on the wider LinkedIn platform.
Selecting the right eLearning platform for your organisation or institution requires a careful assessment of your specific needs. eLearning companies have demonstrated their importance, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the evolution of eLearning solutions means that educators are finding it easier than ever to deliver engaging and productive learning experiences.
These eLearning solutions offer personalised learning and flexible pacing, with tailored content and collaborative environments enabling students to achieve success. Additionally, an eLearning platform can provide educators with the ability to deliver prompt feedback and support to students with data-driven insights into attainment and areas of difficulty.
When evaluating an eLearning platform, it’s important to consider personnel requirements, accessibility needs, and whether they’ll integrate with your current learning management systems. By understanding your organisation’s current situations and anticipated needs, you’ll be able to explore various offerings and begin formulating a digital education strategy that provides staff and students with effective and engaging virtual learning experiences.
Experts in Digital Education Recruitment
At Instinct, our consultants are specialists in recruiting and onboarding candidates for roles across the digital education environment, from designers and developers to subject-area experts. No matter how complex your business requirements are, contact us today to have a no-nonsense discussion about your eLearning recruitment needs.