A self-paced, or “asynchronous”, course provides learners with an experience that has no deadlines. NovoEd’s self-paced offering will feature a user experience that is streamlined for content consumption with new learner engagement opportunities.
The self-paced course is an environment in which peer-driven, collaborative learning and other community features are optional. Every activity will be embedded on a lecture page, minimizing the need for the learner to leave the content flow to complete an action item. As such, the following features are not enabled in a self-paced environment:
- Team assignments
- Course daily digest email
Advantages of the Self-Paced Course
Wondering when, or why, to use a self-paced model for your course? Here are some advantages:
Increased learner flexibility
Self-paced courses place the emphasis on the self: they are self-driven, allowing learners to be more independent and autonomous, which contributes convenience and flexibility for a busy learner who is balancing work and personal life. Additionally, there is no difficult scheduling involved; rather, course participants can slot learning into the pockets of their busy lives. This is why self-paced courses tend to be shorter, micro-learning opportunities.
Learners in self-paced courses expect to be more autonomous and independent. For this reason, the self-paced experience is well-suited to topics that don’t require significant course facilitation effort through discussion posts and submission feedback. We’ve enabled other features that take the place of a facilitator: components like the activity feed and recently active learners display will also make learners feel less alone, as they will be more likely to engage when seeing activity from others. Additionally, using the groups feature is a great way to add crowd-sourced support for learners, especially those who go through the self-paced experience with a cohort.
Ideal for permanent content
Some topics, such as company onboarding policies, do not require frequent content changes or updates. Courses with permanent content that will be distributed to a high number of learners can benefit from a self-paced course model which does not require high investment or engagement from facilitators and instructors.
Ideal for the low-bandwidth learner
If your course will enroll a large, geographically diverse population of learners, or if it contains learners from low-bandwidth areas of the world, self-paced may be an ideal option for you. In a self-paced environment, learners with limited access to a computer, to a reliable internet connection, or to consistent electricity, will have the opportunity to complete the course without having to worry about meeting deadlines.
Advantages of the Time-Based Course
Considering sticking to a time-based course model? Here are some advantages:
A time-based course model offers greater opportunities for learners to receive feedback and interact socially in a peer-based learning environment. Many learners thrive and are motivated by learning and collaborating with peers in teams/groups when they experience felt accountability and social gratification in real time.
More interaction between instructor/facilitator and learner
Increased interaction between course leaders and participants can be advantageous to both parties. Learners can engage with facilitators synchronously, and facilitators can gauge course engagement levels and support learners in achieving their learning objectives.
More structure and discipline
Learners who are accustomed to more traditional classroom environments may have difficulty not being a routine or having an instructor set the pace of a course. Self-paced courses tend to require learners to be much more self-motivated, so many people find that they need the increased levels structure, accountability and attention that can be prevalent in time-based courses.
Ideal for complex topics
While it is not a necessary trait of all time-based courses, it tends to be the case that more complex topics, especially those with multiple possible perspectives or opportunities for interpretation or debate are better suited to the time-based model. Complex topics lend themselves easily to discussion, and learners benefit from increased community participation and peer-to-peer interaction in these cases.
Design and Facilitation Considerations for Self-Paced Courses
Once you’ve chosen to develop a self-paced course, we recommend you keep a few things in mind when creating and running your course.
Make it user-friendly
Due to the lower level (or complete lack of) of facilitator engagement, the course structure should be very self-explanatory. Learners should be able to navigate independently through the content with minimal distraction, and instructions should be clear.
Include an abundance of help resources
Learners will also need to have access to plenty of resources in case they need help, such as a help desk, content FAQs, information on course logistics, etc.
Enable features that take the place of a facilitator
We recommend a few NovoEd features that you should consider enabling in a self-paced course:
- Help widget
- Allows the conditional release of certain content or action items based on completion of a prerequisite
- Added motivation for learners with decreased opportunities for social motivation
- Time estimates
- Allows for more self-directed learning and pacing
Have questions about whether a self-paced model is right for your course? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.