The Greatest Gifts of Online Learning

Online access to teachers is creating a whole new style of learning for students, and it’s making all the difference.

Providing Social Interaction

A few years back, a study by Indiana University’s High School Survey of Student Engagement found that around 30 percent of students were bored due to a lack of interaction with their teachers. Let that sink in for a second. It’s one thing for students to think their teacher is less interesting than a rock, but for them to be bored due to a lack of interaction?

As contradictory as it sounds, online education – specifically one-to-one classes – tackles this challenge head on. Teaching a class of 40 unruly students might be enough to make someone retreat into their shell and start tossing out pop quizzes trying to avoid human contact at all costs, but one-on-one teaching online is a very different environment. An individual online class provides pure interaction. The rapport built up in the classroom between teacher and student becomes the foundation for the rest of the class.

Developing Fearlessness

Alongside nomophobia, fear of failure is one of our most crippling vices. Yet many people don’t even recognize it within themselves. Instead we justify excuses or decisions not to do things based on sound and rational reasons, but often an underlying fear of failure is the true root cause for inaction. In children, this is amplified in a school setting.

We judge students as shy, non-participative or unruly, but we often fail to recognize the crippling fear they have of failing, and failing in front of a class full of ruthless critics. School is an exercise in stepping on egg shells. It’s a place where dropping your eraser in class can have disastrous social consequences for the entirety of a day. So it’s not surprising that many children are intimidated by the idea of participation.

In the online, one-to-one environment, the fear of failure can be nurtured and in many instances expelled entirely. Without the deafening silence of thirty other students waiting for you to mess up, the low-stress online environment frees students from this fear. This is compounded by an inability of the student to copy others or shrink back when others step forward, further increasing the student’s sense of responsibility and ability to develop a fearlessness in the classroom.

Nurturing Exploration

In Northern Malaysia, an experiment was conducted to see the effects of online moderators on the learning abilities of school children. A total of 120 children participated in the study and were able to use online resources as well as access these moderators during their various studies. The study found they were dramatically more collaborative in their assignments and approached problems with a higher level of critical thinking too. The ability to deviate from their textbook requirements, while still having the essential guidance of mentors online, was a positive force in their learning process.

It would be a mistake to assume that online learning is a mere spatial replacement of the traditional classroom setting. It is far more than that. Students gain a level of control over their learning environment, and while they probably still follow a predefined curriculum, they also have the freedom to explore a number of resources and tools that aid them in their journey of active-reflective discovery.

Personalization of Interest

Careers come in all shapes and sizes. So many that regular school systems cannot hope to tailor courses in ways that illustrate all the possibilities a student’s journey could take. So to young children, a scientist becomes a person in white lab coat who does chemistry. Biologists are people who study the human body and a handful of frogs. Historians are focused solely on the American Revolution and a sprinkling of Ancient Rome and Egypt. And so on. Students are at a disadvantage in exploring their own true interests, because they don’t even know what is out there!

Online, individual learning opens up a whole new world of possibility in this regard. Imagine a student with a total obsession for math, except only in the context of building Lego. This student may very well go on to become a world renown architect, and the online classroom means lessons can be individually tailored around this interest specifically (math and Lego), fast tracking the student to his or her dream.

Online learning embraces the rabbit hole.