What are Online Learning Tools? - Definition, Types & Examples

Instructor: Jennifer Moon
This lesson introduces the role of online learning tools in K-12 classroom environments. It defines the concept of online learning tools and then offers examples of types of tools that teachers can use to increase their student's ability to learn.

Why Use Online Learning Tools?

With the rapid increase of technology over the last 20+ years, the way students learn and teachers teach have changed too. Luckily, today a wealth of online tools can supplement your ability to bring new information to students, while providing students with many different options for learning input and output. You may be able to teach more effectively and your students may enjoy learning more using a variety of tools like these.

What are Online Learning Tools?

It's difficult to provide a single definition of online learning tools, because of the variety of tools. Think about online learning tools in this way: online learning tools refer to any program, app, or technology that can be accessed via an Internet connection and enhance a teacher's ability to present information and a student's ability to access that information.

Following are three major types of online learning tools: online classrooms, assistive technology, and apps.

Online Classrooms

Today's students are comfortable and familiar with using the Internet to gain information about unknown topics. In the past a person would have gone to the library and referred to an encyclopedia for information. Today we pull smartphones out of our pockets and ask Google to tell us all about any topic. It is for that reason many students wish to facilitate some of their own learning rather than coming to school and waiting to learn at a teacher-led pace. There are three main types of online classrooms that teachers need to be aware of to meet their students' learning needs.

Blended Classrooms

Blended classrooms use a combination of face-to-face instruction with a teacher at school mixed with some online student-facilitated learning, using the online tools and resources that a teacher gathers and organizes for student usage.

Flipped Classrooms

A flipped classroom also involves students using online student-facilitated learning, but what is different about a flipped classroom is that students are solely responsible for learning prior to coming into a physical classroom. Projects and activities are done in the classroom led by the teacher with the assumption students have already learned the online assigned content.

Distance Education Classrooms

Distance education classes, sometimes called virtual schools, consist of 100 percent of instruction via the Internet and teacher-provided online tools. In this type of classroom a teacher and student would never interact in the same physical space.

Assistive Technology

One of the greatest things about online learning tools is their ability to ease accessibility for students with physical and mental learning difficulties. Assistive technology tools are typically already built into programs and may require only a brief training on how to use.

Text-to-speech Programs

Most programs have text-to-speech features that help struggling readers by taking the written word and reading it aloud to them.

Proofreading Tools in Software

Although the concept of spelling and grammar checkers in word processing programs may not be that new, it is important that teachers instruct students on how to use them to increase the readability of their writing.

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