An e-learning platform should actually be regarded as an integrated environment to support the educational procedures. It is consisted of numerous advanced software applications, still remaining to be exploited at their full potential.
Answers to the most Frequently Asked Questions about e-learning platforms can be found below. We are constantly striving to make this list as complete as possible. If, though, you have a question not listed below, do not hesitate to contact us.
What's the difference between synchronous and asynchronous distance learning ?
Substantially, this is the difference between synchronous and asynchronous communication. A synchronous communications is conducted in real time, whilst asynchronous communication can be achieved without the simultaneous participation and prompt responsement of the participants. The telephone and a videoconference system can be considered as means of synchronous communication, while the email and prerecorded videos are some examples of asynchronous communication. Within a synchronous distance learning platform, classes take place in real time, with all participants directly communicating with each other. On an asynchronous distance learning platform, the educational material is published and available to all users of the platform, thus ensuring full time accessibility.
What's the potential of an asynchronous distance learning platform ?
An asynchronous learning platform can host various means of educational material, such as notes and books in digital format, videos of the lectures, links to resources etc. It can also feature self-assessment activities for each individual topic, as well as exercises with randomly chosen data, to foreclose a possible interception of the answers. An asynchronous learning platform also provides options to create learning paths and wikis, thus integrating invaluable tools for collaborative activities. All users of the platform communicate via email or through discussion boards, a feature that may also serve as general announcement boards. General announcements might also be delivered by the platform's administrators, to all registered users.
What's the potential of a synchronous distance learning platform ?
One synchronous learning platform simulates a typical class environment, where classes take place in real time. The instructors are able to upload the presentation files (in pdf or ppt format) to the interactive blackboard, a feature providing all sorts of typing and drawing tools, thus allowing the instructors to “write” or even “draw” at the blackboard. All participants among the class have three options for direct communication : chat, audio conference and video conference. Students also have the option to “raise their hands”, so as to interrupt the flow of the lesson and pose questions. One synchronous learning platform may also serve as an environment to host “office hours” for members of the teaching staff.
What technical specifications does an asynchronous learning platform require ?
An asynchronous learning platform is a website developed with PHP, requiring at least one MySQL database. The server hosting an asynchronous learning platform must meet several technical specifications, defined by the maximum number of users that will be using the platform simultaneously. In cases of large platform environments, with more than 500 users, it is advisable to host the platform's database on a dedicated server. A crucial factor that shapes the server's technical requirements is the storage space needed to host the files of the classes. Text files and presentations usually occupy relatively small disk space, in contrast to the large and volume demanding video files. In any case, there is always the option to use an expandable dedicated server, with unlimited upgrade features.
What technical specifications does a synchronous learning platform require ?
One synchronous learning platform is built upon an integrated server environment, based on the Linux kernel. The minimum requirements for the server include a quad-core CPU, 16 GB of RAM as well as 100 Mbit of available bandwidth. The option of video recording and archiving of the provided classes increases the requirements for sufficient storage space of at least 2 TB. In order to achieve the least possible latency during multiple videoconferences, the platform shall be hosted on a dedicated server. Overall, a synchronous learning platform requires a bunch of advanced technical specifications, thus increasing the installation and administration costs.
How much does the development of an asynchronous learning platform cost ?
The price for the development of an asynchronous learning platform is defined by a number of factors, such as the number of courses to be offered in the platform, the volume of each course's material, the type and complexity of self-assessment activities and exercises, the user accounts to be created etc. In istogram we are shaping our offers, based on the answers you provide in our detailed questionnaire, so as to offer our services at a reasonable price.
How much does the development of a synchronous learning platform cost ?
The price for the development of a synchronous learning platform is mostly shaped by the purchase and installation cost of the dedicated server, where the platform will be hosted, as well as the monthly fee of the required leased line for the internet connection. The choice of the appropriate internet service provider is a decisive factor regarding the leased line's monthly fee. Internet service providers within the Greek market are considerably more expensive on their monthly charges, compared to providers abroad. In istogram we are shaping our offers, based on the answers you provide in our detailed questionnaire, so as to offer our services at a reasonable price.
How much time is required for the development of an asynchronous learning platform ?
There are several factors affecting the time schedule, such as the total number of classes to be available on the platform, the various types of self-assessment activities and exercises, the number of user accounts to be created initially etc. For the basic installation of an asynchronous learning platform the time needed lies between 2 and 4 weeks, whilst for every course to be published on the platform there is a required time between 1 and 2 weeks.
How much time is required for the development of a synchronous learning platform ?
The required time for the basic installation and configuration of a synchronous learning platform lies between 2 and 4 weeks, provided that the dedicated server is purchased and connected to the internet via a leased line. For the delivery of the complete platform environment, there is an additional required time between 1 and 2 weeks to perform the required testing, so as to ensure the platform's smooth operation under all circumstances.
How can I manage and update an asynchronous learning platform ?
An asynchronous learning platform comes with an administrative backend, for all kinds of administrative tasks. Due to the complexity of the appropriate configurations (especially regarding the user privileges in accordance to the user's role) the platform's administration should only be performed by qualified personnel or an istogram administrator. Updating the platform's content is somehow simpler, but still with lots of parameters to be defined, hence it is advisable to be performed only by qualified personnel. In case there is no qualified staff available, istogram can undertake the overall administration and updating of the platform.