Online learning is different from learning in the classroom, so it requires the use of different technologies than traditional learning does. Online college instructors must use different strategies for creating lessons and evaluating student performance, according to The Online Learning Consortium. To teach students of online college courses, instructors use a variety of evolving new types of technology, from video chat software to virtual laboratory software. As online college degree programs continue to grow in popularity, professors will continue adapting to new technology and incorporating it into their courses for their students’ benefit.

How Online College Courses Use Technology

In place of traditional lectures in the classroom, instructors of online college classes can use a variety of teaching methods. Some professors video tape their lectures and upload them as video files or audio files, like podcasts. Students can then learn in a manner similar to how they might in the classroom, but with the added advantage of being able to pause or rewind lectures as needed. Professors may also share slideshows of notes. Some course material will likely come from required textbooks, but additional documents may be accessible through the school’s online learning platform. Depending on the subject of study, you may have additional technology like special software to use in your online courses. In laboratory science classes, for example, you may use software to conduct experiments virtually just as you would conduct them in person in a traditional laboratory class.

Typically, the learning platform includes a way for students to access prompts and upload their finished assignments online. These programs often include chat functions that allow for virtual class discussions about the lesson. Professors of online classes will communicate with their students via email or private messages within the online learning platform. They use the online learning platform to provide feedback on students’ work, including essays and tests. Some online college courses even include the use of social media in communication between the student and instructor or among all of the students.

Making Better Use of Technology

Some instructors adapt better to new technology than others. For example, one online college student from New York reported having to turn in assignments in person throughout the semester even though all actual course instruction took place online, according to The Daily Freeman. However, most online learning platforms already allow for students to upload assignments via the Internet, and most online professors use this capability. With online courses and degree programs seeing increasing demand, more colleges are not only expanding their course offerings but also working to improve the quality of the courses they already offer.

Technology is constantly changing and evolving, and so is the way instructors of online college degree programs use that technology in their classes. Today’s online professors adapt to new technology by incorporating it into the course in their lectures, their (virtual) hands-on class experiences, their group discussions, their course materials and their assignments and student assessments.