We’ve all turned to Do-It-Yourself crafts and repairs to save a little money … only to have it completely backfire. Maybe the first time you tried to dye your hair at home, you wound up with bright green locks you had to creatively cover up until you could get in at the hair salon. Maybe you thought Duct Tape really could fix everything, and you wound up with a hole in your wall bigger than how it began. Whatever the issue, DIY can fix it … or so you thought.
The truth is, DIY projects require a lot of research and preparation to work—especially when it comes to online education. Creating an online course curriculum from scratch may seem like a simple, cost-effective solution, but before you dive in, it’s important to consider the hidden costs.
Watch Out for These Hidden Costs of DIY Online Learning
Below, explore five unexpected costs of DIY digital learning and teaching, and why you might want to partner with a third-party curriculum vendor instead of going it alone.
1. Course Material Creation
What materials—both analog and digital—do you plan to use in your online course? The online classroom is much different than an in-person setting. Needless to say, you need more than PowerPoint slides to keep students engaged. You need compelling audio, video, and interactive assets to create a successful online course. Consider repurposing your existing, analog content into videos, eBooks, slideshows, quizzes, blog posts, audio files, and more.
Digital assets like these make online courses more engaging, and even improve student learning outcomes. For example, human anatomy terms may be easier to learn from interactive videos, quizzes, or PDFs as opposed to long blocks of text. Make sure you do your research and talk to the pros about possible risks before trying to DIY your way through digital learning.
2. Exam Proctoring
The merit of online learning largely depends on the online learning process — including the exam process. Students need to be able to complete assessments in a reliable and trusted environment.
Luckily, many curriculum publishers integrate online proctoring solutions into their online learning system as an ongoing managed service. DIY course curriculum doesn’t mean you have to do it all yourself.
3. Course Management
As an educator, you’ve got a lot on your plate. You’re already trying to stay on top of student concerns, homework assignments, and department requests. So, why not delegate some of your less glamorous responsibilities to good old fashioned technology? Learning Management Systems (LMS) can make a substantial difference in the success of your course.
An LMS handles administrative course tasks like monitoring student progress, posting grades, analytics and reporting, and even administering tests and quizzes. It works in partnership with you to prevent the “green hair” and “Duct Tape” situations an online classroom environment may present, so you can focus on what you do best: setting your students up for lifelong success.
4. IT/Tech Support
Students access online course materials from desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Your course needs to be compatible across every device, at all hours of the day. That requires some expertise on the backend—and expertise may require a sizable budget. Unless you have a background in tech, or you just so happen to be a coding professor, maintaining an accessible online course might be difficult to do on your own.
Rest assured, when something goes awry, you can turn to a third-party digital learning vendor to shoulder the burden of dealing with complicated IT issues and get things running smoothly again in no time. Look for a vendor that offers ongoing course customization, virtual TA assistance, direct student-to-support communication, and of course, 24-7, on-demand support.
Just as you put the finishing touches on your DIY online course, new technology will emerge, departmental budgets will change, or student demands will increase, and your curriculum will have to change. Be prepared to stay abreast of changing trends in education, and be ready to introduce new technology and updated subject matter into your course curriculum.
If you want a little guidance as you get started, a third-party vendor can help you customize your course material to meet changing industry guidelines, student needs, and trends. With a little help, you can rest assured you’ll never teach outdated, unaccredited, or lackluster content.
Do It Yourself … With a Little Help
To be successful and remain competitive among other institutions, your online course needs to offer high-quality content, exam proctoring, ongoing course management, tech support, and continuous updates. But each of these present hidden and unwanted costs over time.
Many educators see success taking a DIY approach to their online course curriculum. However, as technology continues to advance and student demands continue to increase, you may find that working with a third-party online curriculum provider makes your job a little easier.
Our online health sciences curriculum can help you improve the digital learning experience at your institution. Contact us to get started today.