Out of necessity, universities scrambled to go online during the pandemic, but it is becoming ever more clear that hybrid learning environments such as “flipped classrooms” have real upside potential and are likely to persist. Increased competition for students in the post-secondary education market means pedagogical models are evolving with head-spinning velocity and “digital transformation” is the buzz phrase of the day. But no matter what type of new technology an educational organization has the capacity and change management dexterity to adopt right now, scaling the creation and distribution of high impact, engaging content for their students should be the top priority. Unfortunately, it presents significant challenges.
Many universities have existing Learning Management Systems (LMSs). One would assume these would offer some type of taxonomical approach to content management. However, this is far from the reality. On their own, most LMSs do not lend themselves to efficient courseware development or smart content management.
As we enter this new age of education, adopting a courseware creation platform with sophisticated and powerful content management capabilities now will allow education organizations to focus their time and energy on better meeting student needs in the future, regardless of what lies ahead, and will liberate them from the logistical (and often mundane) challenges of content creation.
Features to look for when evaluating courseware creation platforms include:
- Easy collaboration. A best of class platform will include flexible user management, including the ability to limit content access, share comments and assign tasks. It will also include version control and change tracking options. (Think: Google Docs on steroids.)
- Content reuse. The ability to save and organize learning objects (LOs) for reuse in other courses is paramount. No need to reinvent the wheel time and again.
- Context tagging to allow for one-click production of different versions of courses (eg, student, teacher, international).
- Metadata management tools to allow for better organization and access to resources.
- The ability to easily create and incorporate assessments. The science is clear on this; continual opportunities to assess progress and adapt learning pathways based on content comprehension and retention is critical to learning success.
- Multimedia support, allowing users to easily add videos, images, flashcards, and other interactive content.
- Ability to integrate with an existing LMS, if applicable. Many institutions have invested substantial resources in their current LMS and the best content management platforms will complement them and leverage their value.
- One click distribution to multiple digital channels or print. The majority of today’s learners are “digital natives.” They are used to simply picking up their phones to get information. Ideally, the platform will not only cater to these learners by enabling quick distribution of simple and impactful user experiences (and updates!) to any digital device, but will also offer the ability to simultaneously develop and produce print editions of course materials for those that prefer a more traditional learning experience.
Today’s higher ed organizations are seeking to differentiate themselves and provide value with enhancements and innovations that reach every student, regardless of their needs and learning styles. It’s a daunting task, but the ultimate payoff will be relevant and accessible education for more students. And if we learned anything in the past sixteen months, it is that technology has enormous potential to scale these efforts. The first step to harnessing that potential is adopting a powerful and collaborative content management platform so educators can access, create, edit and distribute educational content rapidly and effortlessly, freeing them up to do what they do best: teach every student.