Teach Online [The Absolute 5 Benefits and Challenges]

The statistics are impressive: online learning is on a dramatically upward trend (165 billion dollars in 2015 and is likely to grow by 5% between 2016 – 2023, exceeding 240 billion dollars).

Bearing this in mind, teachers have a need to embrace this relatively new method of teaching and take on both the challenges and rewards it brings.

To help with this, The Language Pod has explored this subject below. It will hopefully encourage more people to throw caution to the wind and grab this fantastic opportunity to develop new teaching methods and skills within the fascinating world of technology!

Please note that the benefits and challenges of online teaching below are based on either 1:1 classes or lessons with a very small number of students. They are not related to large classes which are more in tune with webinars.

Teach Online – Top 5 Challenges

  1. Teachers will need to adapt their teaching style slightly to optimise the teacher/learner environment. This may mean choosing different materials to those used in an offline classroom. This could be particularly relevant when teaching children. Games cannot always be adapted to work when you teach online and offline.
  2. Technical glitches – they happen, even when using Apple technology! If problems with electricity occur or the student’s wifi is slow (you only have to consider how does weather affect satellite internet to see how this could occur!), the teacher will always need to have a back up system. Some software used to teach online is more sophisticated than others and therefore might need faster wifi. If this happens, the teacher could switch to Skype or something similar until the problem is solved.
  3. Lack of confidence in using technology to teach. This is very common as it is fear of the unknown. However, it is normally quite easily overcome. The best policy is for the teacher to practise on a family member or friend before trying to teach online a ‘real’ student. The teacher needs to feel confident in order to deliver top rate lessons and also put the student at ease.
  4. Most lessons will probably be 1:1 or small groups. Again, this could be challenging for a teacher who is used to teaching large groups of students. Becoming used to the different pace of the lessons could take a little time; the trick is to always have more than enough material on hand. It’s better to have in excess of what you need rather than to drain your resources.
Teach Online [Top 5 Benefits and Challenges]
As well as teaching from home, you can also choose to work from other places with good wifi, such as a hotel, office, quiet café, conference room.
  1. Teaching online can be quite a solitary job and the teacher may feel a little isolated if they are used to being part of a team. It’s very important to have colleagues and friends close by so that teachers can pop out and have some real live interaction with people from time to time. There are also more and more seminars/conferences/networking meetings (many are free of charge too) around. This makes it easier to meet other people who, although may not teach online, might be working alone.

Top 5 Benefits

  1. One of the top positives about teaching online is the fact that the teacher can do it from home. This means that spending time and energy on travelling from one place to another is a thing of the past.
  2. As well as teaching from home, teachers can also choose to work from other places with good wifi, such as a hotel, office, quiet café, conference room – to name but a few.
  3. Teaching online offers the opportunity to learn new skills and techniques, which can only benefit both the teacher and students. Tools for teaching online such as an interactive whiteboard and screenshare are not only useful but also fun to work with, involving the students all the way. Learning how to navigate teaching platforms and understanding the best ways in which to exploit materials in a virtual classroom enhance any teacher’s skills in this tech-savvy 21st century.
  4. Flexibility is one of the key aspects of this type of teaching. The teacher can schedule lessons around his or her lifestyle, which means no more 9-5 days!
  5. Being part of the sharp rise in online education in itself indicates that teachers are current and ahead of the game in their profession.

Bonus Benefits

Also consider the following benefits when you teach online:

  • Creates more opportunity for interaction. Online learning has the benefit of allowing instructors to focus on individual interactions with students. The instructor acts like a party planner, working beforehand to organize an engaging learning experience for students, opening up more time during the course for direct interaction.
  • Affordability. Another advantage of online learning is reduced financial costs. Online education is far more affordable as compared to physical learning. This is because online learning eliminates the cost points of student transportation, student meals, and most importantly, real estate. Additionally, all the course or study materials are available online, thus creating a paperless learning environment which is more affordable, while also being beneficial to the environment.
  • Increases students’ access to teachers. The common worry teachers have is that weaker students who were struggling to keep up with the pace of lessons before may now fall further behind. Contrary to this belief, students have seized the opportunity of online learning to seek help from teachers more often than they otherwise would have. In other words, teaching online has ironically made it easier for teachers to identify and provide more guidance for students who face difficulties with the course content. 
  • Information Sharing Made Easier and Greener. In traditional teaching in person, it is typical to print out a bunch of handouts for the students. With online teaching, you can send them the same documents as digital documents i.e. as PDFs sent by email and this has the benefit of being more environmentally friendly and it also saves print costs and time.

Whether or not teachers are ready and willing to embrace the fact that technology now plays a major part in education, the trend is here to stay. And one cannot stress enough the importance of online learning.

Although at first the thought of trying to teach online may be a little daunting, with practice it can actually open up exciting opportunities to learn how to teach effectively using tools of the future.

8 Lessons Learned from Teaching Online
This video list of insights comes from experts in the field of online teaching. Here is a collection of 8 lessons that might improve your online course! Created by Educause.

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I was born in Cambridge (UK) and have lived most of my life in England with the exception of four years in Spain, which I absolutely loved. I now live in North Yorkshire with my husband and children. I have taught English for over twenty years both in the UK and Spain, teaching mainly business people who needed the language for work purposes. I founded and ran a business in Cambridge for twelve years, when I and a team of language teachers taught local business people many languages at their workplace. I currently own and run The Language Pod, which specialises in teaching languages 1:1 or in small groups online where learners meet their teacher face to face in a virtual classroom. I enjoy running, travelling and spending time with my family and friends.


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