Recent proliferation of online educational tools has changed the way learning experiences are created and shared. Both teachers and students have access to a great variety of online options to either deliver or access classes. Understanding the pros and cons of the different formats can help you decide which environment best suits your needs.
Face-to-face method implies that the lessons are delivered fully on-site with face-to-face interaction between the teacher or tutor and student. This does not mean digital resources and technologies cannot be used as a part of the course. In many cases, they do complement classroom learning and can serve as additional study materials.
- multi-sensory appeal – your students can listen, ask you questions, see your presentations and participate in class activities
- immediate feedback – you can see when students don’t understand and can immediately interact with them
- limited flexibility – you need to follow a set schedule which is not necessarily the best learning time for everyone. Unless you record your lessons, students have only one chance to keep up with the requirements.
- distraction – students get easily distracted in group classes
A face-to-face meeting in a classroom imposes accountability, inspires effort and promotes academic responsibility in subtle ways that we don’t fully appreciate. On a campus, students attend class and stay alert because they worry what the teacher will think if they don’t.
~ Adam D. Chandler; Learning in Classroom Versus Online
An online course is a distance learning course that is provided entirely through a digital learning management system. All assessments occur within the online platform. Students usually interact with their teachers and peers via classroom chats or forums.
It is namely the rising popularity of “massive open online courses” (MOOCs) that is disrupting traditional education and changing the way learning experiences are delivered, accessed and shared.
- convenience – you can manage the course from anywhere at any time. Your students can do their coursework at their own pace from the comfort of their home.
- efficiency – you save both money and time on travelling and copying materials. Online courses also allow you to reach a wider audience without geographical limitations.
- self-discipline – online courses can be challenging it terms of time management and motivation, especially for students. It is difficult for the instructor to stimulate engagement and motivation of the class.
- limited interaction – the common downsides of online education can be a lack of personal contact and limited student-teacher and student-student interaction. There is a higher potential for miscommunication and misunderstanding.
Good courses, whether on campus or online, are engaging and foster active learning communities. In the best online courses, learners connect, collaborate, inspire, discover and create through myriad technologies.
~ Sara Hill; Learning in Classroom Versus Online
A blended or hybrid course is a combination of the two methods outlined above. A portion of a course is delivered online and a portion is delivered on-site face-to-face.
- variability – using a variety of online and in-class teaching strategies make it possible to achieve learning objectives more effectively
- the best of both – a good blended course can take advantage of the pros of both traditional and online education. It allows for class interaction as well as interactive and independent learning activities that are not possible in traditional courses.
- challenge – teaching a blended course can be quite challenging. You have to manage content for both online and in-class and prepare students to work in a hybrid format.
Another popular way of teaching is via Skype where student and teacher interact almost face-to-face using video calls. This method allows you to broaden you reach and has similar characteristics to traditional one-on-one education. Many instructors also use Google Hangouts for their classes as it provides them with additional tools that can improve students’ learning experience.
There is no good or bad delivery method of your classes. It ultimately depends on your discipline and your personal preference in terms of how you want to manage your courses.
How do you deliver your classes? What are the challenges you are facing? I’d love to hear your thoughts so please share your comments below.
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