Teaching is a profession as old as time, but the ways in which it is carried out have altered over the years. Rarely, however, has something come along which has revolutionized and changed the face of education the way online learning has.
For some, it is a threat to the traditional methods, a devaluation of the role of professor, lecturer or teacher, and a dehumanization of the most personable of professions. For others, it is a change for the better, and a necessary one at that. As ever, there are positives and negatives to every new development.
Increase in online resources
The available resources to aid online learning have got better and more plentiful as time has worn on, allowing more and more educational centers to make use of them. Despite this, opinion remains divided about whether online resources should be in place of or used alongside traditional educational resources.
Positives of online learning
At its core, online learning provides convenience not only for the teachers but for the students too. Being able to learn from home, without the pressures and anxieties of operating in a large group of peers may put children at ease and make them more likely, and willing, to ask questions. As many teachers put on one-on-one sessions for students, this is another level on which students with low confidence can better contribute to lessons and seek help from their tutors.
Online teaching, through websites, quizzes, downloadable content and video classes, also allows teachers to tailor their classes. Whether this is through producing their own online content specific to lesson plans and curriculums, or through making classes more accessible to those with learning difficulties or visual or hearing impairments, the personalization opportunities available through online learning are a huge plus.
Comfort combined with the possibility of more contact hours – due to less travel time and more solo sessions – are seen as two enormous benefits of online teaching.
Negatives of online learning
On the flipside, some argue that the changes brought about by online learning lead to a less personal touch, a lack of relationship between teacher and student. In this vein, there are also concerns about the reduction in the number of friends made and personal connections built by students who operate solely online.
Away from the emotional disputes, there are also ethical ones. Without blanket internet availability, poorer families will suffer from the increased use of online resources. This could potentially lead to more class divisions in an already fractured society.
Solutions to potential problems
The single biggest practical challenge with online learning is the quality and reliability of the internet used by educators. The temperamental nature of internet connections can pose huge problems for a school district or third-party business. Using quality network monitoring tools can reduce downtime and alert teachers to flickering connections, ensuring teachers are better connected for longer.
Increased one-on-one sessions should be encouraged to counter the argument that teachers and students do not share the same bond as in person, as should the continuation of parents’ evenings and personal feedback, similar to that of traditional learning.
In terms of making friends, support networks should be implemented, and the use of social media interaction proactively encouraged. In the same way that traditional learning is changing, so is the way of making contacts and building lasting relationships.