Online learning utilizes technology to connect students and educators. Research and Markets predicted that the online education market will reach $230 billion by 2025, and it’s possible that COVID-19 will further increase the popularity of online learning.
Beyond having the power to make education accessible, even during a global pandemic, there are many advantages to online learning. In this post, we explore five benefits of online learning for educators.
1. Access more teaching opportunities
Online learning provides educators with more opportunities to teach in a variety of ways. One clear example of this is if online learning were not available, teaching during COVID-19 would have been impossible.
Online learning also allows you to pursue teaching opportunities in geographic areas that may be impossible to travel to in-person due to budget or public health constraints. Online learning enables educators who, for example, want to teach a second language in another country, to do so without having to leave home. Or, you can also more easily guest lecture around the world on topics that you want to share your knowledge.
You can also reach more students, as there are no physical space limitations when it comes to online learning. The number of students who attend an online lecture is not limited by how big a classroom or lecture hall is — anyone who can view the recorded lecture can be the educator’s student.
2. Communicate more effectively with students
Many students can be intimidated by a large lecture hall. Asking a question in the middle of a lecture can be daunting for some students, and waiting until after class can mean forgetting the question or having to compete with a swarm of other students for the teacher’s limited time and attention. For introverted students, working up the courage to communicate can make things even more challenging.
Asking a question is much less intrusive with remote learning than in-person learning. For students, it can be as simple as typing out a question and hitting enter. You can check the chat log for questions during designated Q&A periods or as they roll in.
Online learning makes it easier for students with a variety of communication skills and comfort levels to participate in class. This means you as an educator can more effectively address student questions, and also encourage more lively, enriching class discussions.
3. Hold students accountable
Regardless of the specific learning model of an online learning course, there is often more accountability for students in an online learning course than an in-person one. Many educators will record class sessions, which makes it easy to track attendance and participation. If students know they are being recorded, they are less likely to skip class or give in to distractions — like using their phone or striking up a side conversation — because there will be evidence of their behavior.
Online learning often features online submissions for work as well. With in-person classes, students can sometimes get away with pretending that they turned in an assignment or slipping their work into the submission pile well past the deadline. Online submissions prevent these problems.
The platforms that accept assignments record the time that work is turned in, so there should never be any ambiguity about whether a student’s submission is considered late. And unless there were technical difficulties that the student expressed, it would be difficult for a student to pretend they’ve turned in an assignment that was later misplaced by the instructor.
4. Learn new technical skills
An educator’s first reaction to having to adapt to a new way of learning can be (understandably) negative. Technology can be confusing and out of one's comfort zone, but becoming more familiar with a new learning management system or other online tools of communication is an opportunity to learn new technical skills.
Technical literacy is something that can continue to benefit educators in the long run, even if they shift back to in-person instruction. Having a more proficient understanding of the digital platforms that students have to navigate can allow you to better understand questions as well as more efficiently and effectively use the platforms. You will inevitably be equipped with new resources and knowledge that can enrich and complement your curriculum.
5. Save time
There are many relevant resources online for educators to use, thus becoming able to spend less time creating educational materials and more time interacting with students. Pre-made educational materials may include lesson plans, activities, exercises, reading materials, assignments, tests, quizzes, and more. You can choose whether to use the materials directly or can even make adjustments to personalize the resources offered to students.
Additionally, learning management systems are often equipped with automatic functions that make grading less daunting. These platforms can easily grade multiple-choice questions, and though they may not be able to assess the quality of a written assignment just yet, they can still be helpful for subjects in the humanities. For example, they can keep track of participation in discussion threads or automatically check for plagiarism.
All in all
Online learning can make it easier for educators to create a unique and valuable educational experience for students. Learning management systems can take care of tedious, time-consuming tasks so that they can focus on the parts of teaching that they love most: educating students.