Online Education can be as Effective as Onsite Teaching
When teaching online have you ever had moments when you felt like this music teacher?
Teaching online can be frustrating because you aren’t in close proximity to your students guiding, helping, and observing them. The physical separation and social distance of teachers from students in online education can make teachers feel like they are not getting through to whomever is watching the livestream or recorded videos, listening to audio files, or reading course material. As a result, frustration might set in for teachers when they wonder if their online teaching can be as effective as onsite and if their online students can actually learn.
If you teach online, either because you want to or because you have to, and you feel frustrated that you might not be teaching effectively in that environment, then take a moment to let out your scream, go for a walk, talk to a pet, drink some tea, or eat chocolate – or whatever you do to quell your frustration – and then continue reading this article and be encouraged by the story of Julius Yego as it relates to the effectiveness of online teaching and learning.
The Story of Julius Yego
Julius Yego is a javelin thrower from Kenya. In 2012, he placed twelfth at the London Olympics. Then, in 2015, he won gold in the World Championships. Athletes attain world-class status by practicing and improving on their own during and after receiving training from coaches. Who was the coach that helped Julius Yego improve between 2012 and 2015? YouTube.
Yego didn’t have a personal coach to guide, help, and observe him, but he had internet access. He watched YouTube videos of accomplished javelin throwers to study their techniques and see their training routines and methods. Of course, he had to do more than just watch videos. He had to break down into parts what he saw and heard in the videos, practice the parts, and then put them all together into a successful javelin throw. No coach or teacher was physically present with him, but he had experts online that taught him from a distance what to do and how to do it. And that is the same way your online students can learn from your online teaching.
The Effectiveness of Online Education
When you teach in-person with your students physically together in a classroom, you provide the material (created by you or others) that your students need and then they practice on their own either in class or as homework outside of class. You, as the teacher, can’t do their work for them. Onsite learners, the same as online learners (like Julius Yego), have to actually do the work themselves. In that regard, online is no different from onsite education. Learning takes place when a person applies what has been taught. Learning goes beyond listening to a teacher in front of a class or watching online videos.
Julius Yego needed examples to learn from, and online videos met that need. That online material demonstrated to him not only what success looked like, but also how it was achieved. However, viewing the online content was just the beginning; he had to practice on his own and apply what he had watched the same as he would have had to do if he had a coach physically present with him.
The next time doubt or frustration about the effectiveness of online education wells up from within or appears from without, remember the following five tips for effective education whether online or onsite.
Tips for Effective Education
- Show students examples of success related to what they are learning. Doing so shows them the possible results of whatever it is they are learning and shows them it is possible to achieve success.
- Demonstrate to your students how success is accomplished. The examples of success need to be broken down into parts and steps so students can see how they all fit and work together to produce success.
- Provide a sufficient amount of material for students. One video, document, or example is not enough. Additionally, all the material does not have to be created by you as the teacher. Provide material for your students to learn from that was also created by other experts.
- Require students to practice on their own so that they apply what they watched or read. Online students, just like those in onsite educational settings, have to do the work themselves whether their teachers are in the same room as them or not.
- Remind yourself of and tell your students about the story of Julius Yego. Online teachers and students get frustrated at times and that’s okay as long as the frustration does not lead to giving up, but spurs the use of different methods and approaches better suited for whatever subjects you teach and skills your students need to learn.
An Encouragement for Online Teachers and Students
Perhaps the most encouraging aspect about the case of Julius Yego is that the videos helped him improve his knowledge and skill even though those who created the videos had no idea he was watching them. The creators of the videos did not know who their audience would be and they did not provide feedback to those who watched their videos, but the online content they provided was effective for learning. Imagine how effective your online teaching can be due to the fact that you know your students, provide feedback to your students, and can tailor your material or carefully select other sources that meet your students’ specific needs and your stated objectives for their learning.
Regardless if you teach onsite, online, or using a combination of both modes, the five tips above can help you be an effective teacher so that your online students are actually learning. The methods and materials, not the mode, are what make for effective teaching. The story of Julius Yego is an encouragement to online teachers and students because it is an example of how online teaching and learning can be just as effective as onsite.