The Internet has lent itself to the concept of remote education. Colleges and universities offer courses that can be taken entirely online, and have targeted many of their programs to non-traditional students. That is, people who have already started their careers but need additional training to advance in those careers.
Corporations have found that online training offers savings of cost and time. Even deployed military personnel are able to receive training to advance their military careers or prepare for a career after discharge.
One important feature of learning management software is that it allows students and instructors to have one point of access to an online program. Students can enroll in classes, review the syllabus and course schedule, view video lectures, read the online version of a textbook, submit papers and take tests with one user name and password.
Instructors can post their office hours or schedule online meetings with students, configure the system so that it will automatically check papers for plagiarism and automatically grade quizzes and tests with multiple choice answers.
Depending on the course, an instructor can draw test questions from a large test bank. The systems are also flexible enough for the instructor to be able to edit test questions or write their own questions. Learning management systems can also be configured to automatically text or email both students and instructors notifications.
Another key feature of online learning systems is that they are flexible enough to be able to use their own libraries of educational materials, link to outside sources, or adapt existing printed materials for online use.
These printed materials can simply be scanned and posted for students to access, but are often digitized so that they can easily be searched. Some materials are converted to audio or video formats. The cost of producing online videos has decreased dramatically in recent years. They do not necessarily require actors on a set.
The availability of stock images and production software allows instructors or administrators of learning management systems to quickly make engaging videos at low cost.
Some learning management systems adapt existing course materials to online learning simulations. Students see short videos that simulate real world applications and are asked to choose from several different options to solve a problem.
Each option that the student selects takes him or her to a different scenario, where more options are presented. A final outcome is presented to the student after he or she has moved through all the iterations of a simulated situation. Many students find that such exercises help to sharpen their critical thinking skills and give them a good idea of what to expect when they finish their education.
Student engagement can be enhanced in online courses through the integration of social media platforms. This gives students the chance to interact with peers at other educational institutions or other corporations.
Such flexible enrollment models often facilitate a broader exchange of ideas and information than can be found in traditional classrooms. Some systems foster student engagement by inviting students to become instructors. They operate on the premise that everyone has expertise in some specialty. If a student feels that he or she has enough knowledge or expertise on a topic, they are invited to submit a proposal to teach a course. The technology makes it possible for this to be done quickly and at a low cost. In many ways, online learning is blurring the lines between teachers and students.