Online Teaching: All You Need To Know For 2024
The e-learning industry is booming, and here’s what you need to know about online teaching.
This article will give you a bird’s eye view of Online Teaching. Though teaching online has been existent for a while now, it has gained immense momentum since the coronavirus pandemic has struck the world. Online teaching has become the new normal for students across the planet.
What is Online Teaching?
Online teaching typically involves the exchange of information between the facilitator or teacher and the student through an online medium. This could be real-time i.e., synchronous, where the student and teacher log in at the same time on the same platform and there could be the exchange of ideas or views and answering of questions in real-time or it could be asynchronous through recorded lectures which the student can listen to any time and anywhere as per his or her convenience.
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What are the must-haves for Online Teaching?
The first and foremost requirement is to have a good internet connection. An unstable connection or a connection with a weak bandwidth can be very detrimental to the stability of the lecture. Besides this, we need to make sure we have a good headset with a good speaker quality as well as a good computer/ laptop/ tablet or smartphone.
Another very important requirement is to find a quiet corner either within your home or wherever you are conducting the class. Though this sounds not very important, it is very important as too much noise in the background can hamper learning as well as teaching and will not allow either of them to concentrate.
Evolution of Online Teaching
Online teaching finds its origin in distance learning which evolved around 170 years ago. However, its history can be traced back to the 1960s at the University of Illinois, USA. They developed an Intranet for its students where they could access all the reference material and recorded lectures.
Ever since teaching via online medium has evolved manifold. From the development of online educational games to Learning Management Systems and the present-day scenario, it has gone a long way. The form in which we see and experience it today was beyond imagination about 60-70 years ago.
Today the various state of the art applications are used for teaching online like: –
- Google classrooms
- Microsoft teams
- Audioboo .. and the list goes on.
Although it has been a smooth transition, from on-campus to teaching online, everything has its own pros and cons, and online teaching is no exception.
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Pros of online teaching
- Saves on travel time
- More flexibility of time
- Helps to reduce pollution as travel reduces
- Saves the travel time which can be used to exercise
- Administration is easier
- More resources can be shared
- Courses that are taught online are generally lower in cost than offline courses and hence cheaper
- For teachers and students who have the responsibility of home or kids or senior citizens etc., it is an excellent option where both can be managed.
- You can choose to do more than one course at a time and save on time
- Learning and teaching can both be paced as per individual requirements.
- Lesser pollution as travel will be reduced.
- This medium of teaching uses more audiovisual methods of teaching which is easier to grasp and has a higher retention value.
Cons of Online Teaching
- Bad Internet can cause disturbance and hence hamper teaching as well as learning.
- Some rural areas may not have internet facilities at all.
- Inability to use technology is a major hindrance.
- Lack of attentivity of students is another drawback. The facilitator or teacher is not in control of students not being attentive.
- Conducting examinations is very difficult as students may use dishonest means and cheat.
- There tends to be more focus on theory rather than practice.
- There is no personal touch or direct face-to-face communication to motivate the students.
- The screen time of students increases greatly causing irritation, pain, or an increase in the power of glasses
- The posture of a student becomes very bad causing body ache and other related health conditions like back pain and spondylitis etc.
- Headache is another very natural outcome.
- Laziness creeps in.
- Physical activities are not performed with the same competitive spirit.
- Socializing and peer-to-peer interaction in person are compromised.
Education and Online Teaching had an arranged marriage
In March 2020, the education system married the online teaching system. This, like any other arranged marriage, was not out of long-lost love or a need, but a compulsion posed by the coronavirus pandemic that affected the entire world. In that sense, the coronavirus pandemic essentially played the role of a matchmaker or family who got the two together.
Given the pandemic, most countries announced lockdowns, and people were forced to be locked inside homes. This led to the closure of schools and colleges across the world. The world had come to a standstill. However, realizations dawned that this is a long-drawn process, and we need to manage the situation.
This led to the beginning of the introduction of compulsory teaching online in schools and colleges. It surely was a tough phase! Education and online teaching had no choice but to try and gel with one another just like the couple does in an arranged marriage. In fact, it is not only that they need to get to know each other and adapt to each other but also with the immediate family which in this case were teachers and students.
Not that online education had not been used earlier, but the extent and volume of education online increased. The online platform though not new was not used by many before. Many educational institutes developed their own software within a short time keeping in mind the security issues with using already existent software.
After a lot of trial and error and trying to adapt and adjust to each other the bride and the groom i.e., education and online teaching embarked on their new married life with quite some success.
Next came the turn of adapting within their social set up which in this case were teachers and students. Educational institutes conducted several orientation and training programs for teachers as well as students so that they get to know the newlywed i.e., the online teaching and education as a pair and can adjust and adapt to them. After all, the success of any relationship not only depends on the people in question but also on the social setup around them.
Many teachers had never had to use technology to this extent and nor did the students. Hence teaching and learning both became totally new different. Besides, any change is always tough to accept. However, in this case, there was no other choice! Initially, there were a lot of teething problems but eventually, all settled down accepting it as the new normal.
Also, facing the camera was another fear both teachers and students had to overcome. Again, switching on the camera consumed too much bandwidth because of which signals became choppy and, in many cases, the smoothness of lectures was affected.
Switching off the camera made it difficult for teachers to make sure that students were paying attention or if they had logged in and were not listening. So, it was a catch 22 situation. However, over some time both teachers and students evolved and made this entire array of new relationships a success proving the age-old saying –Where there is a will there is a way.
Hope this couple lives happily ever after even after the pandemic is over and life returns to normal and the compulsion becomes a choice.
Through the lens of the stakeholders
Happy and content stakeholders always ensure the continuity and stability of any endeavor. Below is a 360-degree look at the views of all the concerned stakeholders.
Educational Institute View
It came as a big shock to most educational institutes when all of a sudden, they had to be shut down. But just as they taught students not to get pulled down by adversities and to rise and walk, so did they. Quickly they moved to online learning through digital platforms ensuring cybersecurity for their students.
It involved a lot of administrative work from ensuring that teachers had the required infrastructure to conduct online classes to training them and also training the students. This reduced the working cost like electricity, travel cost, etc. but it added the cost of software licenses. Schools slowly adapted to this new normal.
Events, competitions like drawing, singing, dancing, etc., festivals, Annual Days, etc. everything was hosted online and with great success. Students were given opportunities to attend various webinars and seminars on various topics such as cybersecurity, how to deal with depression during lockdown etc., and also interview great personalities and know their success stories, and learn from them. All this was always available but not tapped. This new scenario has made us implement such initiatives.
In fact, Educational Institutes also came up with innovative ways to conduct exams by having students sit with full-length mirrors behind them and have multiple cameras in place of them. Over time they have evolved so much that they are actually wondering if post the pandemic they can continue with this system on a hybrid basis where maybe students are on campus 3 days a week and the other two days, they attend online lectures from home. This will allow us to make the best of the advantages of online learning while trying to reduce the impact of the disadvantages of online learning.
Overall, all Educational institutes have taken it positively and have coped well with online learning.
Online Teaching? What is that? How will it happen? Will my child be able to cope up with it? What about the ill effects of the screen on my child’s eyes? What about my child’s mental health? And the list went on and on…
Parents were anxious and were dealing with a lot of stress themselves with work from home, layoffs, salary cuts, lack of domestic help and to top it all up children being at home all the time. Over and above all these changes that took place with them, they also had to deal with the stress kids were faced with so many changes around them like not being able to meet friends, attend school, learn new ways of learning, learn new software, etc.
Why is learning online a compulsion? Why is the school pressurizing us for this? What if my child does not receive education for some time? These are special times, and special action is required,
-said Bindu Thakkar whose daughter is in grade 1.
My daughter is in her teens and so much exposure to the internet can have her watch or read content which is not her age despite checks I have put on these sites. I cannot monitor her all day as I have my own work to handle. I am extremely worried about this. Besides this is her board year. How will she cope up with all this?
-said Gayatri Sanghvi whose daughter is in grade 10.
I personally was worried about my daughter’s eye health because of long hours of screen, physical health as there was no physical activity as well as mental health without socializing with peers her age. Also, my responsibility as a parent increases as they are not in face-to-face interaction with the teacher. I have to start playing that part of the role of a teacher, that she can’t play without meeting the students.
However, in the midst of all this, parents have been very supportive in this journey. With all their anxieties and worries they have tried their best to embrace these testing times and do the best they can for their kids.
Just like students and parents, it came as a shocker to teachers too. They never had needed to use technology to this extent. They realized they had become students themselves in learning how to use the new digital platform. They were confused about: –
- How do I know that my students have understood what I am teaching?
- What if I am not able to do justice to my job?
- What if it does not work out and I lose my job?
- How will I be able to assign homework online and then correct it?
- How do I ensure my students actively participate in class?
- How do I establish a connection with my students?
- It involves a lot of self-discipline and some amount of handholding. How do I ensure that discipline in my students?
These are some of the uncertainties and dilemmas teachers face while teaching online. Here, it will be unfair to not give credit to the way teachers have adapted to this new way of teaching and have found and innovative ways of dealing with these problems.
In their view, although it can be debated upon and it has as many advantages as disadvantages, the one thing they really miss about classroom education is the face-to-face interaction with students. According to them, it really makes a difference when you are face to face with your student.
Again, it may be because they are used to this way of teaching in a classroom, and hence, they find it difficult to adjust. Maybe over the year’s teachers may adapt to this too and start preferring this medium of instruction. Who knows?
Students are one of the most important stakeholders in this entire paraphernalia of teaching and learning online. They are the ones who have almost everything at stake. They pay for it, they are supposed to receive the maximum benefit out of it, they need to adapt to the new ways of learning, do their homework and submit assignments online, etc. which needs not only a change in mindset but also a thorough knowledge of technology as it involves scanning homework sheets, uploading them, solving online assignments, etc.
Here are some points of views given by a few students: –
I really miss the school environment as well as my friends. I face bouts of depression because I don’t meet my friends in school. I feel I am less attentive during an online class because I know my teacher cannot catch hold of me. I retain better when I am face to face with my teacher.
Ever since I started learning online, I got spectacles!!
It has helped me become independent, flexible, and do research by accessing the vast plethora of information which is available outside of the classroom and improve my understanding of the subject.
Clearly, this shows mixed reactions by students.
If we can deal with and solve the problems of the stakeholders involved in teaching online, then the longevity, expansion, and continuity of it cannot be challenged. Here are some of the things that can be done to solve the roadblocks that come in the way.
What teachers can do to increase efficiency
Online methods of teaching have been used not only by educational institutes including institutes conducting professional courses but also by tuition classes. Some of the step’s teachers can take to make online classes more effective include: –
- Make the lecture more interactive.
- Ensure regular breaks are given to maintain a good span of attention.
- Provide a recording of the lectures so that students can hear them in case something is missed.
- Ensure good internet connectivity.
- Give more practical assignments so that you can judge how much the student has grasped.
- Ask students for feedback and make sure the student’s name is kept a secret so that they do not hesitate and give true feedback.
What students can do to get the maximum benefit
- Take small breaks in between lectures.
- Keep splashing water in your eyes every hour.
- Take a small walk in between lectures
- Avoid the temptation to watch a video while in a lecture. Do not keep apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar, etc. on your device.
- Exercise regularly.
- Take notes while the lecture is in progress.
- This new way of learning involves more listening and less reading and writing compared to an actual classroom setup. However, reading and writing are important skills to have. Hence this should be practiced on a self-initiated basis.
Online teaching Jobs
Over the past few years, the demand for teachers for teaching online has seen a massive jump. Good communication skills, patience, subject knowledge, ability to manage time well, well versed with the various learning-based application are some of the pre-requisites for this job. You can work from the comfort of your home and also decide the number of hours you can chip in. To apply for such jobs put in your resume with your experience with any of the online tutoring companies and you are good to go.
What is the future of Online Teaching?
After a thorough analysis of the online teaching scenario as well as the advantages and disadvantages it poses, I firmly believe that it could eventually replace the traditional on-campus method in certain cases.
Despite its inherent disadvantages, in certain situations, it may prove to be better especially for higher education where personal attention, hand-holding, and face-to-face interaction are not a prerequisite and mere guidance is what the student needs. It is very difficult to make a conclusive and decisive prediction, however, what is for sure is that there will be a huge increase in the number of online courses offered as well as opted for.
Like we know nothing is impossible… humankind may innovate new ways to mitigate the cons of teaching online in the years to come and we may see a complete shift towards it over the coming decades.
Hope this article helps you answer all your questions and gives you a better perspective on online teaching.