We live in an informational era with everything we need to know and more at our fingertips. This is especially beneficial for learners in general. Since we all know that lifelong learning should play a defining role in our personal development, the knowledge we access online is invaluable.
However, how much is too much? How do we find the information that is relevant to us? Learners have to search for and select the information that best suits their needs. This is particularly tricky for them. It's hard to know which information is reliable and valuable.
That's why, as instructors, we have to provide the best learning solutions. This doesn't necessarily mean sharing your knowledge and your knowledge only! It can also refer to offering learning experiences through peer-created content, also known as user-generated content.
Your learning platform can become a learning environment that goes beyond the course content. By designing spaces for learners to share information or opinions, you're fostering a sense of community. Moreover, it's a way to leverage your learners' ability to filter the relevant information and their willingness to share it with their peers.
6 Benefits of integrating user-generated content in e-learning
User-generated content (UGC) in e-learning refers to any form of content created by users, or in your case, learners. Social media is a prime example of user-generated content.
This type of content can support learning through various formats such as videos, blogs, podcasts, images, infographics, quizzes, forum topics, and responses.
Learners retain information better in social environments where they can share information and experiences. That's why you should consider taking advantage of this aspect in your online courses.
Here are some of the benefits of integrating user-generated content in your online course:
UGC is a method to capture knowledge and make it available to learners. Although for accuracy reasons, any information needs to be analyzed and approved, it is a source for continuous improvement for learners and instructors. On the one hand, learners benefit from accurate, clear, and simple information. On the other hand, instructors have a source of inspiration for future course content.
In general, online courses provide information that can be revisited for self-paced learning. They don't focus on involving learners beyond the boundaries of the course. When you ask learners to give their insights on your course topics or explanations and additional information, you encourage them to participate actively. People usually like to share what they know and do with like-minded individuals. It validates their work and experience.
Online courses can be impersonal sometimes, but opening an opportunity for your learners to communicate through forums or groups will help them learn from each other. It can create a sense of community as learners collaborate in a safe environment that provides reliable resources and information. Once the community is established, it can move to different platforms such as social media networks.
Learners coming from different backgrounds can work together in your online environment. Although the information you provide throughout it may be too academic for some, they can reach their peers for support and explanations in a more accessible language. This provides the inclusion of different categories of learners, even if they're total beginners.
The content that your learners provide becomes a reliable source of information, especially if you check it permanently. Learners mostly benefit from relevant information applicable in real-life, which increases its credibility. Peers also provide models of action and behaviors that enhance the knowledge they receive in your course. In this way, your course is completed and enriched by user-generated content.
User-generated content can take various forms, from video to text, from blogs or podcasts to images and infographics. UGC can be shared through different media synchronously or asynchronously. For synchronous delivery, course participants can use chat tools, and for asynchronous delivery, groups or forums. Besides sharing different perspectives of the same topics, users can share testimonials, which enhance the trust in your course.
For the user-generated content to become a benefit and not a liability, you have to monitor its quality and accuracy. You also have to give recognition to contributors through incentives, badges, likes, or comments. Always credit their work if you're using it as a reference.
To sum up
User-generated content enhances the value of a course and brings benefits to both learners and instructors. Learners connect to their peers, share information and experience, help each other navigate your course and move beyond your content into the real world. At the same time, instructors engage learners and foster a social learning environment, which returns active participation and increased course value.