So far this year more than 1.3 million Brits searched the Internet for online learning sites. Good news for my online learning business. According to a report from Hitwise over 4 million people searched for ‘How to’ related subjects in search engines. The great thing about online education is that it is readily available to anyone at any time.
I used to teach at a university. As a senior lecturer I taught subjects such as event planning, sustainable event management and business economics. Teaching is one of the most rewarding jobs out there as you get to interact with students, explain and discuss theories and offer someone guidance. Nowadays I’m teaching online and, I am not going to lie, I do miss the face-to-face interaction with students.
It is that personal interaction, the opportunity to build a relationship with someone that gives classroom teaching the upper hand at the moment. But classroom teaching can also be tedious for students and lecturers.
Lecturing for 4 hours
On a Friday morning from 9am until 1pm I would teach a group of 25 students Sustainable Event Management. That’s a 4 hour block in which students were supposed to pay attention. Think about the time you sat in a meeting that lasted for four hours. Painful wasn’t it? Sure, I wouldn’t talk for 4 hours. There were breaks, exercises, group work, discussions but still…. 4 hours.
You might wonder who came up with that idea. Well, partly management and partly timetabling. Rather than looking what is best for the student we would look at what works best for staff members. The thing is when you are teaching you “deal with it” and make the best of it. But it is in no one’s interest.
Become a student
In 2009 I was studying for my MSc in Business Economics. All of the sudden I became the student rather than the lecturer. I sat in a lecture room for three hours learning about competitive advantages. No discussions or interactions. Just one short break half way through to visit the toilet. As a lecturer I learned a valuable lesson; know when to stop talking.
Yes, there are a lot of benefits going to university. But universities need to change how they teach. Get rid off uninspiring and sterile classrooms. Make the university a personal experience for students and staff. Personalised classrooms! Place yourself much more in the shoes of your students. It’s tricky, I know. Budgets don’t allow for all of this and it means you need to change the way you have been doing things. But you better change, because the Internet is catching up.
In the past I’ve signed up as a student to online courses, MOOCs. One was pretty amazing as it was fast paced and offered a great variety of content. I also signed up for an online finance course. I’m sure the PhD man teaching it was a lovely person in real life but his online teaching skills were dire.
When teaching online classes you need to be brief and to the point. Udemy, one of the biggest online course providers, advice is to keep sessions between 2 and 10 minutes. My finance guy went on for 30 minutes. Thirty very long minutes.
The benefits of online learning
Since 2015 I’ve been providing online courses. Some of my sessions are only 1.5 minutes long. Okay, perhaps that is a bit too brief but I guarantee you it is to-the-point-information. I’m still learning every day about online teaching and change my courses accordingly. As an online tutor and as an online student I do see some clear benefits of online learning:
Bite-size sessions means higher concentration
When I was an online student I loved the bite-sized lectures. As soon as something was longer than 10 minutes I struggled to stay focused. All of the sudden there’s a bird flying past my window or I would receive a Whatsapp message. And now you have Pokemons to catch as well. All very interesting but the idea is to stay focused on that online course.
Online learning isn’t necessarily a replacement of a university course. Normally online courses are a lot cheaper. For example, the maximum you have to pay for an online course on Udemy is $50. The purpose of a lot of these courses is to further your knowledge and your skills of a certain subject. That can be done at a cheaper price. My workshop retail between £20 and £45.
Improve your skills
My online courses in event planning are not replacing university courses that offer the same. You don’t graduate from my courses. You just complete them and gain knowledge by doing so. Some online courses offer recognised certificates. Online learning platforms like Udemy only offer a certificate of completion. An 18-year-old will gain more than just a certificate by graduating from Uni after 3 years. Valuable life lessons, friendships and experiences are equally important. Online courses offer you the opportunity to top-up your skills.
Remember those uni days where you had to get up at 8.30am to make it to your 9 o’clock class? It probably rained as well. And it was the day after the night before… Life was hard. With an online course you don’t have those problems. You can access the content whenever you want, wherever you want. Don’t feel like studying today? No worries. Check in tomorrow. Study when you want to study.
I have produced several online courses and, like mentioned before, I keep learning how to improve them. Some of the sessions are free so you can check them out. Do visit my website and let me know what you think of them. Any advice is appreciated.