BUYER BEWARE! There are many types of course currently marketed as "ONLINE", that sadly do not make meet the simplest test of what this actually suggests. I have followed this carefully over the past 10 years, and the variability is still quite staggering. If you are interested in online functional safety training for TEAMS, then read on.
The following is my take on what I would regard as the ugly, bad, good and best types of "online" course available today. In each case, I have assumed that the content of the course material is sound, and that it is the claimed "online" delivery which is very misleading.
*Note that the first two items below should not even be called "online" courses, because they are not online. However, many such courses are still marketed as online when they are not.
The ugly SLIDE-SET course
Really poor courses, often marketed as "online", are typically sets of slides or printed materials that were actually made for use in a classroom environment. They were never intended to be used without a live tutor. After purchase, you receive a set of PDF files, and the rest is up to you.
The badly NARRATED course
Recognising the problem of the ugly "online" course, some organisations will use recorded narration to add to the slides. Narration can improve things, provided it is not simply someone reading the same information that you can read on the screen! I have purchased so-called "online training" like this from otherwise reputable organisations, and been highly disappointed.
“Reading a well-written book on your chosen topic would be much better than taking a poor online course.
The GOOD ONLINE course
Companies who invest real time and effort into developing truly "online" courses will be offering much more than copies of slide-sets. The first sign of a good online course is that it is actually ONLINE. This should not really need saying, but it does. ONLINE must mean that it is updated centrally, and users log-in to access each course remotely. It should always be up to date, rather than fixed at a snap-shot in time when you purchased it.
The second sign of a good online course is the method of content delivery. A good online course should use a mix of text/slides, video/audio, and some form of interaction which actually tests each learner's understanding.
This should really be the minimum standard you should expect if you are hoping to get a team of people to engage over a period of time. Of course, the topic itself must still be well stuctured and explained.
The BEST ONLINE course
The best online courses will have all the features of "the good online course" that I have already highlighted above.
What sets apart the best courses are some clear additional differentiators:
- Courses should enable LEARNERS to follow their own progress over a period of weeks or months, returning to the exact place that they last interacted with the course material.
- LEARNERS should be able to ask questions if they have any concerns about the course material. They should get responses from someone knowledgeable about the topic.
- TEAM LEADERS should be able to see the progress of learners, both to gauge overall team progress, and to allow them to intervene with any learner who has not started or is falling behind.
- OPTIONAL "LIVE ONLINE TRAINING" sessions should be provided for selected courses where the material requires it.
How online courses can help TEAMS and individuals with functional safety projects.
3 Lessons - Introductory