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Flexibility and personal touch essential in nonstop virtual course design

How do you design your implementations to harness the full potential of nonstop virtual courses?


Rakhshanda Khan

senior lecturer
Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Surabhi Bhuskute

senior lecturer
Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Published : 21.05.2024

Nonstop virtual courses are increasingly becoming popular amongst students as they offer many advantages in terms of flexibility, cost effectiveness, convenience and ease of access (Dung 2020). However, these courses are 100 % online, self-paced involving a large group of students (100+) and pose unique challenges in terms of student engagement, communication, retention, building trust and rapport, and lack of personal touch.

Designing virtual courses is not as simple as converting course materials into electronic format or organising learning in a digital environment. It involves making pedagogical choices that are intentional, inclusive and flexible in order to optimize learning virtually. Therefore, the learning environment must be accessible, relevant, and meaningful to students (Hockings 2010).

With the implementation of the new curriculum, nonstop virtual courses have gained popularity at Haaga-Helia. Every semester, hundreds of students enroll in each course implementation, significantly outnumbering the students in the contact/blended counterparts of the same course. Therefore, it is crucial to manage nonstop virtual courses effectively.

Based on our observations and experience, having effectively run nonstop virtual courses for several semesters, we offer the following suggestions for best practices.

Prioritize clear communication to foster success of the students

It is important to provide clear instructions to students participating in nonstop virtual courses. When instructions are clearly articulated, students understand better, complete their tasks efficiently and navigate through the course material more effectively. Providing precise and well-structured instructions enhances the overall learning experience of the students and helps prevent any confusion.

At times, educators possess a wealth of knowledge they aim to share. Yet, in doing so, they risk overwhelming students with an excess of information, which leads to confusion. Clarity in delivering instructions empowers students to focus on their assessments and tasks rather than interpreting ambiguous requirements. In nonstop virtual courses, where communication happens through written text, clarity becomes even more important.

Cultivate an inclusive learning experience for the learners

Educators should maintain flexible deadlines and accommodate students’ schedules. In nonstop virtual courses students should have the flexibility to pursue their reading preferences according to their individual interests and schedules, in contrast to traditional classroom settings with predetermined schedules.

The assignments should be self-paced and reflective, letting students follow their own learning journey and work at their own pace. Furthermore, assignments should encourage critical thinking, allowing students to apply their learning to real-world contexts.

Customization of course contents is important to ensure that educational resources align with the students’ preferences and pace. Moreover, assignments should have assessment-rubrics. This is crucial because the class has over a hundred students, necessitating efficient and transparent grading processes.

Connect with students for better engagement

Personal touch plays a crucial role in enhancing the learning experience of students in virtual courses. We suggest providing course orientation videos and recorded lectures, where teachers have the opportunity to connect with the students. This may reduce the feelings of isolation often associated with virtual courses.

When students are able to see the educator and the educator demonstrates expertise while also showing empathy, it enhances the students’ ability to develop trust. This may allow the students to seek help, ask questions and participate actively during the course.

Delivering timely, prompt and constructive feedback is vital for students participating in nonstop virtual courses. When students receive timely feedback, they feel better engaged and motivated to participate in the course. Prompt responses to emails demonstrate that educators value students’ concerns. When students realize that they are valued, trust is established.

In short, nonstop virtual courses, if executed efficiently, empower educators to tailor learning experiences according to students’ needs and preferences. At the same time, they offer exceptional flexibility to students to study at their own pace and convenience. How do you design your implementations to harness the full potential of nonstop virtual courses?


Dung, D.T.H., 2020. The advantages and disadvantages of virtual learning. IOSR Journal of Research & Method in Education, 10(3), pp.45-48.

Hockings, C. 2010. Inclusive Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: A Synthesis of Research. York: Higher Education Academy.

Picture: Haaga-Helia