There are many different online learning methods that all work to deliver information from educators to learners. The programs may be created and delivered through traditional two-year associate's degree programs at community colleges, four-year bachelor's degree programs at universities or private online schools for vocational training and other learning needs.
The information may be delivered through a web-based virtual classroom and accessed through an online portal that requires a username and password login. Another option includes software-based education, which may consist of thumb drives, flash drives or disks with video and audio materials.
Learning may also take place through specialized software learning platforms. These online environments consist of audio, visual and text-based resources. They might include YouTube videos, lectures, real-time instruction and podcasts as well as the use of traditional printed textbooks. Forum discussions are also an important element of these programs.
Interactive, real-time learning is growing in use and consists of video lectures, interaction with the lecturers and conversing with other students by text, voice chats, webcams or a combination of these methods. When a student completes a task, such as submission of a written assignment or taking an online quiz, the educators grade the work and deliver feedback through an email, text or comment box through the web portal.
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Grading of a student's work may also be done through live presentations and discussions. This is more common for graduate level work. Students who are taking an online educational program through a university may be required to attend an examination at a location of the university's choice while a proctor monitors the examination. Hybrid online educational programs and other types of online education will be covered in Chapter 2 of this guide.