Online instructional design has its share of problems - not being able to see the students' and professors' body language, technical glitches in software, misunderstandings in communication.
These are remedied through video chats. With eyes making contact over the internet, all stakeholders instantly witness the reception of a given topic, one sees furrowed brows, heads nodding, and the like.
Technical glitches are a problem, yet they are also a problem within a traditional classroom. Tips on how to update software/hardware are necessary. Additionally, stakeholders must be reminded that the glitch is a temporary problem and not something that needs to be obsessed over. Issues will be resolved as soon as possible. Back up communication and assignment plans must be consulted. Again, similar situations occur in traditional classrooms as well. All is not lost.
Clear instruction must be given. Stakeholders should strive for clear and concise verbiage. Additionally, stakeholders should re-state frequently, discuss topics in other manners - handouts, video, slide presentations, web links, and so forth. Lastly, an emphasis must be placed on the importance of developed communication. Stakeholders must expect that questions may be asked and answers given in a timely manner. Nothing is more frustrating than someone who does not respect another's time and conveniently overlooks an email or a question on a discussion board. To be clear that such a "blow off" is not occurring, then stakeholders must know that a delayed response equals a repeated question. Stakeholders should have an elected mediator in place if a need arises where one of the parties continuously ignores the other party.
Does this work?
Yes. I mentor young adults in Kenya. We have video chats, emails, a website for learning management, and a number of links and presentations.
Online learning was once viewed as a fad that could not be used and viewed as a viable option to traditional education modalities. This has changed as technology has improved and stakeholders have become more comfortable with virtual learning environments.