Prior to converting learning materials to a distance learning format it is important to understand the background of online education and the details of what it is and what it is comprised of. Distance education has many different definitions. One definition concludes that distance education is “formal education where the learning group is separated and where interactive telecommunications systems are used to connect learners, resources, and instructors” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p.32). The main idea behind distance education, especially an online course, is the separation between the teacher and student. This could be separation that is physical, cultural, intellectual, emotional, or psychological.
There are different types of online formats. The three main types are online, blended or hybrid, and web-facilitated. An online course is a course where at least 80% of the content will be delivered online (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012). A blended or hybrid course is typically between 30%-79% of the content being facilitated online. More information on blended courses will be available in this manual. Lastly, a web-facilitated course is when web-based technology is used, but only about 29% of the course content is delivered online (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).
One thing to point out regarding online course formats is the asynchronous format. Asynchronous distance education “means that instruction is offered and students access it at separate time, or anytime that is convenient to them” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p.34). This allows for flexible schedules for the learner, but also means the learner must be responsible and manage their time wisely.
Note: all previous training materials need to be housed on a server for all trainees to access, so it is suggested that a course management system be used to create an online course for which these resources can be accessed anytime the trainees need them.