With the widespread use if the Internet and the increasing mobility of its users, various ways of online education let teachers and educational institutions keep pace with their more and more demanding and tech-savvy audiences.
There are however numerous myths related to online teaching. In this article, we will take a closer look at five of them and try to debunk them once and for all.
Myth 1. In online teaching, you can do without a real teacher
Some people believe that if teaching materials can be accessed online, a person responsible for managing the resources and helping the audience study is no longer necessary.
In fact, there are self-study courses available online where users are supposed to study on their own, with no supervision at all. However, in classic e-learning courses, a teacher is available for students remotely at all times, to monitor their progress and support in case of any difficulties. The teacher acts as a mentor and advisor.
It is also the case with online courses offered by universities. A teacher is always there to supervise students’ work and make sure they meet their deadlines with regard to tests, exams, etc. Students can learn at their preferred pace but they always have someone to turn to if they need support or consultation.
Myth 2. Lack of face-to-face contact between a teacher and their students is a serious obstacle
For many, this may be an important issue, as a face-to-face conversation is always more effective than e.g. communication via email. It’s worth knowing, however, that in many cases you can easily overcome this obstacle and be able to get in touch with your online students in real time.
Webinars are among the tools that let online teachers and students have an instant message conversation. The chat feature is available to send and receive messages in real time. In addition, due to the fact that the presenter sits in front of a camera and uses a microphone, the audience can see and hear them speak. This all makes the student-teacher interaction more tangible and their communication – much more effective.
Myth 3. Online students are less motivated than traditional ones so an online teacher’s work is much less satisfying
One may think studying online is a solution for people who don’t like daily learning routine and study only when they really feel like studying. Actually, in many cases, this is not the way things are. Many students choose online courses to obtain a university degree or to gain new skills indispensable for their work. On one hand, they can adjust the learning pace to their individual needs and more easily combine studying with e.g. their family lives.
On the other, as they don’t attend everyday classes and lectures, they need to put in much more effort to study systematically and avoid distractors, especially when they are supposed to meet deadlines, deliver assignments or take exams. As a result, online students may turn out to be much more disciplined and self-directed than traditional students.
Myth 4. An online teacher is not able to engage students as effectively as in the traditional teaching model
Okay, that’s right. Today’s students are not keen on filling blanks or do multiple choice tests, whether assigned online or in a traditional classroom. Teachers must find ways to engage them and capture their attention for longer than several minutes. It may seem much easier to accomplish in the traditional model.
Fortunately, there are tools that enable online teachers to offer attractive and engaging education. Webinars are a solution worth considering here. With interactive whiteboards, live chat, screen sharing, surveys and many other features, presenters and participants have an opportunity to truly interact with each other in real time despite the fact they are not working together in a classroom.
Also, there are trends, such as gamification and microlearning, that are worth observing if one wants to make sure their educational online offer meets contemporary students’ needs.
Myth 5. Online courses can be offered over and over again, with no need of updating the contents
Nothing can be further from the truth. The fact that teaching resources are available online doesn’t mean that they will be up to date forever and ever. On the contrary. Online, news spread at a moment’s notice so new information can be accessed immediately.
In many industries and areas of expertise, one cannot rely on a source of knowledge that provides outdated materials. Also, trends related to the way educational resources, such as courses, are designed change very quickly. That is why the necessity of providing regular updates to online teaching materials cannot be underestimated.
Online teaching lets schools and universities cater for the needs of today’s students who expect an easy access to learning materials, wherever they are and whenever they wish. Having dispelled some widely held myths, educational institutions can truly benefit from the fact that they offer online courses and training.