Online learning has certainly been put to the test in recent months by school systems, universities, and individuals with no other option. Many have been embracing the change full speed ahead and are discovering a world that continues to completely rock their previous understandings of what a lesson entails and the benefits they provide. Others are still hesitant to embrace a form of education that has carried a stigma for roughly 20 years. For those of you working professionals who haven’t been convinced or are warming up to the idea, here are 5 reasons why online learning is the way to go.
Obviously, right? Well, convenience is more than simply comfort in our endeavors. For example, it’s well known in the fitness world that an individual’s proximity to a fitness center or gym has a direct correlation with the number of times they attend over a specific period of time. More time at the gym means more time spent working towards goals. Would an individual partaking in an online learning course be more likely to attend classes than one in a traditional classroom setting? The answer is yes. For those working professionals, let’s throw a 40 plus hour work week, commuting time, project deadlines, and social commitments into the equation, and it’s a no brainer.
Specifically for online learning related to language training, error correction during speaking is undoubtedly one of the biggest advantages of having a qualified language teacher. In an online setting, a teacher has the ability to correct student errors using any type of chat communication tool which allows fast, frequent, visual corrections at the moment. The student isn’t interrupted and is sometimes receiving as much as double the number of corrections they would have received if the teacher had used oral correction methods common to the ESL classroom. Of course, chat boxes are just an example. PDF annotator apps can offer efficient corrections in reading and writing and can be saved for students to review outside the lesson.
Another no brainer of online learning, but as with convenience, let’s look at how diversity enhances our learning of a language. Two heads are certainly better than one, but what about two heads from two different countries bringing two different perspectives on a topic? Especially with learning English, we have the opportunity to learn with students and teachers with different accents, idioms, and variations of sentence structures. Sure, traditional classrooms aren’t always homogeneous, but let’s just say the doors are more open to the world if we’re learning remotely.
We all know a lower student to teacher ratios benefit both parties, and the fact is that most online learning courses run smaller class sizes. We’ve all seen or personally experienced colleges running Zoom classes with 50 plus students listening to a professor. However, this is no more online education than physically sitting in a padded seat in an auditorium. Online learning is emerging as a way to collaborate differently, a way to collaborate with online resources and people. For better or worse, until a piece of technology comes along that allows 50 students to interact with an instructor and classmates with the same amount of student talk time as with 5 students (something not too far away), virtual classrooms will continue to be commonly capped at 5.
The New Norm
Zoom seemed to have landed in our laps in a way that no one anticipated, including the company itself. Businesses are finding new ways to interact through virtual meeting platforms, and we are seeing the real and forced evolution of the workplace. New tools, norms, devices, and expectations are fueling innovation, which brings up the ever-controversial phrase by Mr. Paine: lead, follow or get out of the way. Today our meetings are online along with our language acquisition, which both can present the same opportunities to maximize efficiency, and the more we familiarize ourselves with the tools we’re using on a daily basis, the more adroit we’ll be.
We have all had classes that we’ve loved! Those classes where lifelong friendships were formed and inspiration gained. We look back on those classes, and they’re often viewed as some of the best times of our lives. The important thing to remember is that online education is not taking away from any of the above mentioned. It’s a tool. It’s a way to enhance our language learning processes in an ever increasingly demanding world. Personally, I would never downplay the importance of in-person contact. However, on the same note, I would never downplay the importance of fine tuning whatever process used to maximize the efficiency of a desired outcome. There is no better time than now for working professionals to experience what online education is offering.
Ryan is an onsite and online English instructor for Workplace Languages. Ryan has been in the field of English language instruction since 2006 teaching, developing, creating and leading in a variety of settings including public school systems, universities and private institutions. In addition to language classes, Workplace Languages offers full-service translation, voice-over services, off-the shelf language learning products, and a wide range of customized language programs to help you close the communication gap at your company.