In recent years, there has been an explosion of online learning courses and platforms that. This has been an amazing breakthrough that allows more people worldwide access to education that they may not have had otherwise. In this 21st century, it is no longer necessary to leave the house and travel to an outside location to learn something new. Even colleges offer online classes for us to take, and some are even free like these classes from Harvard!
I have been teaching online for the past 3 years, although I am on a break from it right now. I teach and tutor people of all ages ranging from teenagers to adults both French and Spanish, and I also have experience teaching Spanish in a traditional brick and mortar setting.
There are some unique online learning challenges that can scare some people away from it all together. As a tutor, the majority of my students choose to take lesson in-person. For some reason, the idea of an online session seems insufficient, especially for their parents. But I can say from experience, that there is little difference between the two. You can get a high quality lesson online, and there are really that many differences. The few online learning challenges you may face are easily overcome as long as you are aware of them. And, in fact, there are some great benefits to it as well!
Top 3 Online Learning Challenges
1. Staying motivated
If you take online lessons, it can be hard to stay motivated because you have to hold yourself more accountable. Your online teacher can really only contact you through email or chat which are both very easy to ignore. So there is no real way for your teacher to reprimand you for not coming to class. It is not like they can find you in the building or run into you walking down the hall.
One way to overcome this is to try to set up your external environment so that it enables you to be more motivated. Maybe having an online teacher is enough to keep you accountable which is great. It does help to have someone relying on you to be there. If it is not enough, you may need to change some things to help you stay motivated.
2. Your busy schedule
The biggest of the online learning challenges, this seems to be the case for many students who are young professionals. The demands of the business world today seem to interfere with people’s free-time in a big way. I have had several students who were really motivated to learn and attended all of their lessons each week, until their busy season at work. Suddenly they started missing sessions and they slowly reduced the number until it was zero. It can be difficult to learn something new when your brain is stressed out, and your body is worn out from working so many hours.
You may be wondering how you can make time for your lessons when you can hardly make time to rest. It may just require you to eliminate something else and use that time for your lessons. To help with mental fatigue, you can try to make your lessons more fun and easy to pay attention to. For example, if you are learning Chinese (or any language) you might ask your teacher if you could learn by listening to songs for awhile, just to keep it light and enjoyable. There are many creative ways to find time in your schedule if you really want to take lessons.
3. Not tech savvy
Some people find online learning daunting because they are not computer savvy, but you shouldn’t let that stop you! You really don’t need to be an expert at using the internet to take online lessons. Most of the time, your teachers can help you because they use Skype, Google Docs, etc. all day long with their students.
Many students worry that they won’t be able to see their teacher, or that they won’t be able to share information easily enough. But this couldn’t’ be farther from the truth. It is pretty easy to connect things to your computer nowadays, and if you are using a laptop or even your phone, they have the camera build right in. If you need connect a camera to your desktop, you can buy one that is plug and play, meaning you just plug it in and it automatically downloads any drivers you may need. Back in the ‘old days’ we had to do all of that manually, but not anymore!
It is just as easy to share information while learning online. Google has a great way to share documents and information. Basically, the teacher creates a document with the information you need and then ‘shares’ it with you. This means that you can both see the same thing at the same time. You can even see where the other person’s cursor is on the page and also that they are viewing it! If you have editing permissions, the two of you can type on the document and can both see what is written. You can also use the message feature with Skype, or whichever platform you are using to talk to each other.
The online learning challenges that students face are far outweighed by the benefits. Please don’t be afraid to try it out yourself!