When COVID-19 struck in 2020, many industries shifted toward digital and online avenues, including education and learning. This led to the rise of a massive boom in online teaching, which has had a lasting impact on teachers and students alike. According to CNBC’s report on the online learning boom, the COVID crisis facilitated a 15-fold jump in students using online learning platforms compared to the previous numbers. This begs the question, have we found a better way of teaching? In this article, we compare online teaching Vs classroom teaching and see what is more favorable for teachers.
Online Teaching Vs Classroom Teaching
As the shroud of the pandemic lifts and schools are re-opening for in-person learning, many learners — from children in schools to adults in specialty courses — are back in the classroom.
In the past, the classroom was the only option for students to receive an education. However, today, everything has changed. People have experienced what online learning is like, and many have become accustomed to it. Online learning is therefore an increasingly popular choice, and with continuous technological advances, it only looks set to grow in the future.
As a result of this, teachers today are having to navigate a new educational landscape, where the lines between online teaching and classroom teaching have become increasingly blurred. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There are both advantages and disadvantages to online and classroom teaching, and they can be used in combination to great effect.
We’ll explore both methods of teaching below and discuss why a mixture of the two will benefit both teachers and learners as we move forward.
In recent years, there has been a rise in the popularity of online teaching. This type of teaching allows educators to teach students from anywhere in the world, as long as they have an internet connection. There are many benefits to online teaching, including the ability to reach more students and the flexibility it provides both teachers and learners.
Language learners all over the world have long used online learning (and teaching) as a way to pick up languages. Due to the monetary constraints involved with traveling for language practice, virtual and remote language instruction has been a growing niche on the Internet for some time.
This trend has since spilled over to all other students, from kindergarten to university, who are now learning on platforms on their smartphones and laptops. A feature by Maryville University on remote teaching notes that 93% of US households reported some form of virtual learning during the pandemic.
While it may have taken time for everyone to adjust, teachers slowly improved their approach to online teaching, focusing on ways to keep learners engaged and communicative, even in large virtual classrooms. Some remote teachers even made it a point to let students share their work with everyone else in the class to build encouragement and morale.
Online teaching has therefore developed significantly in recent times, and there are many advantages to it.
Advantages of online teaching
There are several advantages to online teaching:
- Flexible schedule. You can work from home or anywhere else with an internet connection.
- Audience size. You can reach a much larger audience of students. With technology, distance is no longer a barrier to learning.
- No travel. Just get out of bed, turn on your laptop on start teaching. Just make sure you’ve planned your lesson first.
- Standardized lessons. Many schools will provide online lesson plans for their teachers to follow. This saves teachers a lot of time and allows them to focus on the teaching.
- More comfortable for students. They can learn at their own pace and in their own environment, which can make the learning process more effective.
- Save money. Resources like textbooks and classroom materials can be much cheaper in digital format.
Who wouldn’t want to be an online teacher? However, if you are thinking about becoming an online teacher, there are a few things you should consider.
Disadvantages of online teaching
Teaching online is not without its challenges. Let’s take a look at some of the disadvantages of online teaching:
- Irregular hours. With online teaching, there is often no set schedule. This can be great for some people but others prefer routine. Also, it can be hard waking up in the early hours of the morning to teach English to a Chinese student, for example.
- Technological difficulties. You’re at the mercy of your internet connection. If you lose that or the software you’re using goes wrong it’s lesson over. Students can also leave or cancel the class without warning.
- No travel. Some teachers will love being able to travel to new destinations to teach. Not everyone wants to be stuck behind their computer all the time!
- Loneliness. Online teaching can be isolating for both teachers and students, who may not have the same opportunities to interact with each other as they would in person.
- Challenges of keeping students engaged. If they are not in a traditional classroom setting it can be harder to make sure all of the students are following the lesson.
- Classroom management can be difficult. It can also be hard to manage a remote classroom since there is no physical space for students to be in and no way to easily see what everyone is doing.
To mitigate these challenges of online teaching, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, it is important to make sure that you have a good internet connection. Second, you will need to be able to create engaging and interactive lessons. Finally, you will need to be able to manage your time well. With the right preparation and mindset, anyone can be a successful remote teacher. It can also help to have your own teacher website where you can communicate with your students.
And, if all else fails, there is always classroom teaching!
Classroom teaching is all about teaching in the physical classroom. Many teachers prefer this method of teaching as it allows them to lead a group of students in learning activities in a designated area, which can be much easier to manage. However, now that institutions are fully back to in-person learning, learners and educators have differing views on classroom teaching and whether it’s more effective than remote alternatives.
For language learners, in-person learning has big benefits. From non-verbal clues and body language to zero technological hurdles, in-class learning is a more involved experience. Nevertheless, some students still prefer the flexibility that their online lessons provided.
Let’s take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of classroom teaching.
Advantages of classroom teaching
- High level of student engagement. In classroom learning, increased motivation and engagement through face-to-face interaction are key advantages.
- Space to learn. Physical classrooms provide a place for all learners to develop their skills using all of the classroom facilities available to them.
- Hands-on experience. Whether children or adult learners, a classroom allows a practical, hands-on experience without much disruption — a frequent and inevitable obstacle associated with online learning.
- More sociable. Physically interacting with other people allows students to develop their interpersonal, social, and organizational skills.
Disadvantages of classroom teaching
- Inflexible. You have to travel to work and it’s much more difficult to pick your hours.
- Disruptive environments. Particularly with big classes, the classroom can be full of distractions for students. This can make it difficult for teachers to keep students on track and focused on learning.
- Old technology. Many schools, especially those working on a budget, won’t have access to the latest technology. This can affect the teaching methods you can employ and also have a negative impact in other ways.
- Increased workload. Planning lessons and marking homework without the help of technology can be a lot more time-consuming.
This doesn’t mean that remote learning is better than face-to-face education. Despite these disadvantages, classroom teaching still has a lot going for it in the great online teaching Vs classroom teaching debate. For many teachers, it remains their preferred method of teaching as it allows for greater levels of student engagement.
Realistically speaking, if you possess good teaching qualities, you can be an effective teacher wherever you teach.
A key takeaway from this is that neither online teaching nor classroom teaching will likely be replaced by the other anytime soon. Even though there’s no longer a need for social distancing measures, teachers and learners can still benefit from the accessibility of online teaching and the ability to set their own pace for learning outside the rigid, traditional approach to education.
Meanwhile, despite remote learning’s convenience, not all teachers and learners can access the hardware and Internet connection required to conduct or join remote sessions.
Ultimately, an ideal set-up may be in the middle — a hybrid education structure that considers the relevant concerns of both methods of teaching. Digital technology is constantly evolving, but it’s here to stay. It also doesn’t have to wholly replace our traditional learning and teaching methods. Instead, online teaching tools can be a valuable addition to in-person teaching, enhancing how teachers communicate with learners.
In the end, when it comes down to online teaching Vs classroom teaching, it is up to the student and teacher to decide which type of environment is best suited to their needs.
Article contributed to by Rebecca Jaiden.