Teaching and learning have undergone some incredible changes in the last few years. As a result of the fast growth in the number of online courses, many teachers and experts now have an opportunity to show and transfer their knowledge via the Internet. Its educational role is increasing, not only as of the source of information but also as the mediator between students and teachers. What’s more, today you can become an online educator without any previous teaching experience. However, you need to be a certified and verified expert in a particular niche. What also matters is how you decide to transfer your knowledge to students. Two most popular ways of teaching online at this moment are live, i.e. real-time classes and premade courses. Numerous factors determine which of them a new online educator will take. The goal of this text is to explain the pros and cons of each of them, providing our readers with some valuable information about both these teaching strategies.
Why real-time classes and courses are recommended?
Holding live, real-time classes yield numerous benefits, no matter if the venue of these classes is a brick-and-mortar classroom or an online teaching room. We’ve narrowed them down to three major advantages:
A sense of obligation
When a teacher meets the same group of students daily, several times a week, they all develop a sense of belonging to that group, as well as a sense of obligation. On the one hand, the teacher can create a long-term syllabus for that particular group of students, making a long-term plan for each student. On the other, the students will know what they can expect throughout the course and set their goals accordingly.
What’s more, nowadays you can use a course builder to break down your syllabus into easily digestible educational bits.
Better time management
Knowing exactly when you have your classes enhances your time management. No matter if it’s a group or individual online classes, once students and teachers make an arrangement, they can hold on to their agreed schedule. Also, in modern online surroundings, there are numerous educational platforms that mediate between teachers and students, so that both parties can focus strictly on teaching and learning. In that case, organizational aspects are sorted out by the support teams of those platforms. All these details contribute to the higher efficiency of live online classes.
Regular evaluation and feedback
A live teacher always has numerous opportunities to perform some on-the-spot corrections and interventions. Additionally, you can make a note on the area in which a student or a few of them make common mistakes and prepare additional exercises for the next class or send them some worksheets via email in the meantime.
Apart from that, teachers who opt for real-time online teaching can give regular feedback to their students through oral and written exams. Moreover, it’s essential to hand out some self-assessment worksheets from time to time, so that your students can analyze their work and results on their own. Here you can see some key features of this process that Stanford University insists on.
Finally, encourage your students to evaluate your teaching methods and style, as well. For that purpose, you can use the evaluation form made by King’s College London.
Financial benefits of real-time classes
The major financial benefit of real-time classes is that you can negotiate your income directly with your students. Since this is the age of productivity based on outsourcing, students can find it useful to collaborate with educators from different parts of the world. For instance, you might pay $100 monthly for Java programming classes in your neighbourhood, while on the Web it’s possible to get the same service at a fraction of that price.
Apart from that, you can easily form a group of students and increase the amount of money you make per unit of time. To top it all off, you don’t have to invest in any expensive software tools. For starters, a Skype conference call will do. What’s important when it comes to these no-middleman classes is to ensure a reliable invoice generator, so that your students always get their invoices on time. Besides, they’ll always know what they’re paying for.
Also, if you decide to work for one of the aforementioned online teaching platforms, you can count on some extra earnings, as well. For instance, English teachers working for Tutor ABC are evaluated after every class by their students. That way, they can make some extra money, in addition to the base rates they get for each class.
A screenshot of the TutorABC payment section
The major cons of direct online teaching
The productivity and work satisfaction of every online teacher will mainly depend on the niche they opt for. In line with that, English teachers, programming and Web design educators are more likely to have a successful launch of their online careers. If you take a look at the most popular jobs on Upwork, you’ll see that writing, programming (with all its branches) and Web design are the most popular categories.
On the other hand, if you want to become an online educator in other fields, it will require stronger persistence and more patience. Since every online teaching experience brings some inconveniences, we’ve selected the following three potential issues as the common ones for all niches.
Working with students who speak different languages and aren’t fluent in English
While these students are perfect clients for English teachers, other Web-based lecturers will have a lot of problems working with them. Of course, some technical and programming fields can be explained with the use of examples and formulas, but it will be a strenuous process if your students don’t understand your language.
As opposed to that, if you’re not fluent in English, it will be embarrassing and inconvenient for you to work with foreign students. Therefore, until you improve your English and get one of the internationally recognized English certificates, it’s recommended to teach only domestic students.
Time differences and exhausting class appointments
As an online educator, you’ll join the army of freelancers who have clients in many different parts of the world. What you need to know here is that you’ll spend some long nights working, due to time differences. The problem is that this lifestyle might take its toll on your social and family life. So, if you are a sociable person, think twice before you enter the arena of online education.
The best thing you can do here is to start with one or two students/groups, just to check if you can keep pace with the work requirements. As you the number of classes gradually increases, you’ll realize how much you can handle and find the right measure for your personality. Also, that way you’ll prevent yourself from burning out due to work-induced exhaustion.
Inability to provide enough materials for real-time classes at the spur of the moment
Depending on the field you’re going to teach in, you’ll be facing bigger or smaller problems vis-à-vis teaching materials. For instance, a foreign language teacher can find loads of free worksheets and videos online, which enables them to create the entire course on their own. What’s more, if you start working for a language-teaching company, they’ll provide you with these materials.
On the other hand, Web design educators or programmers might spend too much time looking for the right materials preparing for every single class. In return, this might depreciate the worth of the money they make while holding online classes. Since you’re trying to become an educator-entrepreneur, it’s crucial to realize that the time spent doing this job is a very important feature. This is where we get to the advantages of premade courses.
Turning your experience and knowledge into an asynchronous course
As an alternative to live to lecture, modern educators can turn to different forms of asynchronous classes. In a nutshell, this form of education refers to premade syllabuses, courses and classes. While face-to-face teaching requires a combination of exquisite verbal skills, modern teaching methods and well-organized materials, creating evergreen courses demands a different approach.
Also, once you’ve made a course, it can be taken – or even bought – many times by an unlimited number of students. This type of work can be roughly divided into three following categories.
Preparing lessons in the PDF-form (screenshots with well-organized worksheets)
Although you can rely on a wide range of video and audio materials for your online courses, it’s practical to enrich them with proper worksheets. Since the most widespread form for making and storing documents is PDF, it’s the most practical option for your worksheets.
Moreover, make sure that every part of your course is visually attracting. For instance, adding screenshots, images, graphs and even drawings can make your course stand out from other similar efforts.
Making online tests
A variety of tests is the major prerequisite for a well-organized and successful online course. Therefore, a far-sighted online educator will start making tests simultaneously with the sole creation of the course. As a result, you’ll have a chance to add various details to those exams.
When it comes to the test form, make sure that you cover as many types of learners as possible. In line with that, offer each test in PDF and Word, as well as in different online forms. When it comes to the latter, make sure that you try several test management software tools and check which ones suit you best.
Creating student groups on specialized social media
Online educators who decide to work with groups of students will need to find the most convenient way to manage those groups in a practical way. So, instead of sending out multiple emails, you can simply launch a group in one of the numerous social media. For instance, start with a Facebook group and see how things are going.
What’s more, today you can count on social networks specialized for educational purposes, such as Edmodo. Here you can easily create a group and invite your students to join it. Since this educational platform is available both on iOS and Android devices, it enables you to communicate with your students whenever you want, giving them new tasks, exercises or directions.
A screenshot of the Edmodo homepage
Those three tactics will ensure that you give your students an opportunity to access the teaching materials and tests in many different ways. Also, with the help of various social networks, you’ll ensure intensive communication and support, which is invaluable for every learner. So, you might not be a live educator, but you’ll make their learning a lively experience.
Four most practical software tools for online educators
We’re going to conclude this analysis of various aspects of online teaching with four practical software tools that every Web-based educator will find helpful. Not only that these solutions will reduce the time needed to create a course, but they’ll also enable you to gather first-class teaching materials.
- Quiz Faber – A practical tool for making multiple-choice tests, true/false exercises, open-cloze exams and many other test forms. It supports all the mainstream video, audio and image formats so that you can enrich your exercises with some student-inspiring details. Although its interface is a bit old-fashioned, it’s easy to use for both teachers and students.
- Class Marker – A visually attractive tool that comes in two different versions: for business use and for educational purposes (schools and non-profit organizations). The basic package for the business version costs $39.95 per month and it should meet your needs at the beginning of your career. It offers a large number of options, from creating tests to displaying results and providing statistical data about students’ progress.
- Open Culture – A large library of free educational and cultural materials. Some of these materials are located on other websites, but they’re all free and secure. You can use it to prepare your classes and courses or to refer your students to additional materials.
- Calibre – The fastest way to change your e-book from MOBI to EPUB is to use Calibre. You simply need to add the desired book to this tool and set the input and output formats, as explained in this demo. Also, it’s a free tool, but you can make a donation to support its creators if you like it.
This is the age of Internet-enhanced education. We all have access to petabytes of various materials from different fields of human interest, but we can’t all learn on our own. This is where online educators come on stage. Students need experts and educators to handpick for them what’s important for a particular niche and what’s not. This is the beauty of the teaching job – shaping people’s minds and enriching them with new knowledge. No matter if you opt for live classes or you go for premade online courses, use the advice provided in this article. We wish you an exciting and fulfilling teaching career and a lot of successful students.
How do you see the present and the future of online teaching? Share your stories with us and inspire new online educators.
AuthorBio: Mark is a biz-dev hero at Invoicebus – a simple invoicing service that gets your invoices paid faster. He passionately blogs on topics that help small biz owners succeed in their business. He is also a lifelong learner who practices mindfulness and enjoys long walks in nature more than anything else.