The uniqueness of online learning

Daniel Thies

Each individual learner, teacher, discipline, and institution has unique needs. In real world educational settings the environment adapts to those needs to provide optimal learning. The same is true online or should be.

What product or project provides the best solution online for teaching, learning, and communicating online? Most people would probably start with looking at the offering of learning management systems and student information systems. However, one usually finds that any one product is lacking in essential features needed for most realistic teaching situation. There is no truly comprehensive out of the box solution for  education because each educational context is different. Different learners and different disciplines have different needs. Consequently, setting up an online learning environment should not be about choosing the the best vendor in the field of all in one solutions, but evaluating the needs of your students and institution, and making sure that learner and educators have access to the tools that facilitate the institutional objects. In some cases one system may fit the need, but in most more than one solution will be needed, and often customization to individual institutional needs is required.