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e-Learning Platforms and Tools: Part 1

Technology E-learning School Break Lunch Concept

By: Mathew Byrne

The big four course management systems (CMS) continue to rule the landscape of e-learning platforms in academia. However, the e-learning space is becoming increasingly crowded as nonacademic platforms and several e-learning tools have emerged as more than just complements to the powerhouse systems. It is probably rare that nurse faculty would choose to “re-platform” outside of their enterprise CMS, but they definitely could be involved in choosing a new institutional platform. More commonly, faculty may be seeking complementary tools or platforms that aid in achieving the goals of a particular learning experience.

With a multitude of free and cost-effective platforms available (e.g., Google Suite, Ruzuku, Udemy), the big four platforms will need to be equally innovative or purchase or integrate with popular tools in order to stay competitive. Part 1 of this two-part post explores the considerations that go into choosing a supplemental platform and offers recommendations for evaluating different types of digital teaching/learning tools.

There are key factors to consider if there is a new platform in your future. The first is to understand the differences between an e-learning platform and a teaching/learning tool. Typically, a platform offers multiple services and functional options, such as student roster management, a gradebook, discussion forums, and/or content sharing options). Therefore, choosing a platform is a complex process because the platform typically serves groups of people in a variety of different ways. Below are some platform-focused considerations including context, the suite of tools, and the often overlooked technical aspects.

In part 2 of this blog, we will explore a more focused set of criteria for evaluating technology tools. Keep in mind that institutions typically have instructional designers or support specialists who should be available to faculty for these very types of needs. Always consult and collaborate to ensure you are not bypassing institutional policy and to see if there aren’t already tools that could be used to meet the needs that you have. Otherwise, prepare to explore and play among the many options that regularly emerge!

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