COVID-19 struck us without warning & disrupted the everyday lifestyle of many people across the globe. Like many institutions, schools & colleges have also shifted their base to virtual platforms to conduct classes online.
Could this move be the catalyst to create a new, better effective method of educating students? While some worry that the hasty nature of the transition online may have hindered this goal, others plan to make e-learning a part of their ‘new normal'.
Well, with preferences comes its challenges. We are here to run you through the 10 common challenges of online teaching. Don’t worry; I’ve found a solution for all of them.
1. Technical Issues
Technical problems are a big hurdle for both Teachers and Students.
There are some common technical issues that students & teachers face while using eLearning
& eTeaching platforms. Here are some of those:
- Technical problems are one of the main stumbling blocks of online training. There are often issues like compatibility (with operating systems, browsers or smartphones) & insufficient bandwidth. This is a big hurdle for both Teachers and Students
- Sometimes, teachers can’t load the right video on their system or decide to use a video that is not compatible with many operating systems or smartphones. This creates a lot of trouble for students who want to study from these videos.
- Using high-resolution videos often creates a problem due to high data consumption and low internet speed.
- There can be problems with uploading & downloading content by students.
- Students can’t always get a stable internet connection, making it hard for them to participate in online classes.
- There is also the issue of accessing the right technology (such as a computer or laptop) to participate in online courses and classes.
- It is essential to mention the system requirements for students before the online training session, along with the installation process. This will help them to better prepare and sort out any technical issues.
- It is always good to remember that the number of participants should not exceed 20 at a time. More than 20 participants may lead to difficulties in teaching and learning because of incompatible systems or bandwidth issues.
- Teachers can choose online courses or teaching platforms that do not require much internal memory or a high-speed internet connection.
- They could pay attention to the sound quality (an issue that is often neglected) and be sure to try out the course on several smartphones, browsers and operating systems.
- You can update the parents/students about recent developments & initiate onboarding sessions with them.
For Students (Ask your students to do this before every online class):
- Before an online training session, it is necessary to check all their technical requirements. If they are using a mobile phone, it is advisable to use a Wi-Fi connection instead of data.
- Make sure that their device has sufficient storage and power backup before starting the online training session.
2. Security & Privacy issues
One of the significant issues faced by teachers today is security & privacy issues. Most of their content is duplicated & getting circulated for free. Lack of control over Intellectual Property, Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement are significant concerns associated with online courses.
The lack of security and privacy affects teachers and concerns employers and institutions as they lose out on revenue. They are trying to do their best in a challenging situation.
This can be overcome by using the appropriate Digital Rights Management tools & including copyright notices. Teachers themselves are not aware that they can protect their content from being misused. The only thing required is to get an ISBN number from The Registrar of Copyrights, Govt. of India and register it with the local police station. This will ensure that your content remains protected from any misuse or piracy.
3. Little or no personal interaction
Online courses are becoming more popular & convenient for college students. Students communicate with their teachers & classmates via the internet in an online course. Some online classes take place in real-time, through live video chats or phone conferences. Other online courses let students participate at any hour of the day by posting lectures, comments on message boards, & turning in assignments via email.
There are advantages to taking online courses: Students can save money on transportation costs, watch lectures over again if they need to review a topic, & set their schedules. They can also take classes that may not be available on campus because professors have many other obligations. The main disadvantage of taking an online course is that there is little or no personal interaction between a student & his teacher. It can be challenging to ask questions without talking directly with a professor or teaching assistant.
This can be overcome by setting-up student-teacher interactions & allowing students to chat in real-time or through Gmail.
Likewise, students can still have an opportunity to interact and make friends in person by attending school events, such as movie nights & potlucks. Another possible drawback is the lack of immediate feedback from teachers. However, with today’s technology, feedback can be received via email or chatting within a short period of time after completing assignments or exams on Whatsapp or other messenger apps.
4. The need to be an all-rounder
The online teaching environment can be quite demanding for teachers as it requires them to be an all-rounder. Many activities need them to multitask, such as communicating with their students through emails, chatting sessions, forums or discussion boards.
These activities require them to use different communication tools like instant messaging (IM), voice over internet protocol (VoIP) services like Skype or Google Voice, etcetera which sometimes takes up most of their time during class hours because they need constant attention while they teach at the same time using computer screens instead of blackboards or whiteboards. Blackboard and whiteboard make multitasking much more accessible than before when computers were not yet invented as these devices allow teachers to have a better view of what is happening in the class and at the same time do other tasks which can be done while teaching.
Online classes usually have less face-to-face interaction between students and lecturers because there is no physical presence needed, unlike in traditional classes where the teacher needs to use his voice to be heard by everyone inside the room. This means that online classes require more creativity from teachers to be still able to reach out to their students effectively even if there is no physical contact involved.
Teachers can plan their tasks & divide their students into groups to carry out certain functions like brainstorming ideas which would also help increase interactions among them.
However, teachers should be careful when dealing with group activities, especially if the group is enormous and the number of students is small. This can result in some students being left out or not heard by the teacher. To help shy students fit in, teachers can encourage them to speak up during class or ask questions.
5. Visibility & Credibility
Gaining visibility & credibility for an online course can be tricky as it involves activities like capturing the attention of the target audience & creating awareness about the course.
Including many marketing & promotion activities like offering a part of teaching as a free trial can go a long way in converting leads into paying clients. Adding valuable & helpful content can boost sales & credibility too.
6. Payment Collection
Collecting payment could be a significant issue for teachers. Many times, it results in awkward conversations which cannot be avoided.
The enrollment procedure can be customized so that payment of fees is one of its prerequisites. This simplifies the process of payment.
7. Figuring Out What To Teach
This is a common problem and a two-pronged one. The first problem is figuring out what to teach. You might want to teach something that you’re passionate about, or maybe you want to make money by teaching something popular.
It’s essential to find the right balance between the two, so you don’t end up teaching online for too long and burning out. The second problem is figuring out how to teach what you’ve decided on. If you’re an expert in your chosen field, then this might not be too much of a problem for you. But if you have no experience with teaching, then it can be easy to figure out how best to present your information so that students can learn it quickly.
Take some time to think about what you want to teach and how best to teach it.
A good way of doing this is by thinking of questions that people might ask about your topic and then creating content around those questions.
It’s also worth taking some courses on teaching online as they will give you a good idea of the best ways to present your content online.
8. Connecting With Students
One of the biggest challenges of teaching online is building a relationship with your students. You don’t have those face-to-face interactions or opportunities to build rapport, so you need to find other ways to connect with them by communicating clearly and frequently.
It’s also important to note that some students may be more comfortable asking questions over email rather than in a forum, so it’s a good idea to set up an email address specifically for student queries and be responsive to their emails. But at the same time, some students might not even be comfortable with asking questions via any means since there isn’t that rapport between you and them.
When you’re in front of your students, you get to see their body language, read their expressions and interact with them for clues about how well they understand the material. When you’re online, though, communication becomes less intuitive, and students can easily get lost or drift off if they don’t understand something.
Now that you’re in their houses use the camera to show them yours! This keeps things engaging for students and makes it easier for them to relate to you as a teacher and person. Also, less formal attire is acceptable (you still want to look presentable, though!).
9. Staying Engaged Throughout The Lesson
Sometimes students are not as engaged during an online lesson as they may be during a face-to-face class, so we must consider how to keep them interested and involved in our studies. It can be very easy for students to become distracted when they are not in an environment designed for learning (e.g. a classroom). There may also be other distractions in their home or workplace that can compete with our lessons and draw their attention away from the class and us.
You know that keeping your students’ attention is a challenge if teaching online. The simple fact that they can’t physically see you and are at the mercy of their webcam’s video quality can make it all too easy for your students to disengage. As an online English teacher, how do you keep students engaged throughout the lesson? Make them laugh! Since humour is culturally and personally subjective, be careful not to use jokes or memes that might seem offensive or inappropriate to specific cultures.
A good rule of thumb is to stick with humour used by native speakers in popular culture. That way, you can almost guarantee that your students will understand where it came from and what it means (i.e. movies, TV series, etc.).
10. Maintaining A Consistent Schedule
As an online teacher, your time is your own, and this can be both a blessing and a curse. You may have more flexibility in your schedule than ever before, but the challenge of keeping a consistent work schedule is real.
It’s all too easy to get distracted by social media or other personal responsibilities when you’re working from home. If you don’t account for this, it won’t take long until your days are filled with distractions, and your productivity has plummeted.
To combat this, you must maintain a regular work routine that includes work hours each day (and week). This will help you stay on track and keep focused during the working day.
Try to be as disciplined as possible when planning your schedule (and stick to it!). This can mean having a specific area in your house that you only use for work or setting an alarm clock every morning telling you when to start working and when it’s time to stop.
Teaching online might be challenging for many reasons, but if you have a positive attitude and are willing to try new things, you can thrive from home. There are many reasons to teach online that have nothing to do with direct compensation, but some challenges will invariably arise when trying to teach online.
The most important takeaway from this list is that these challenges vary from a good teacher to a bad teacher and a good teacher to an average teacher. A great online teacher will consider these challenges and how they apply personally before beginning their class. It is pretty clear that even though online courses have their challenges & shortcomings, these can be overcome with proper planning & effective use of technology.