Efficiency of Online Teaching Strategies

Introduction

Modern education experiences an influx of innovations in the manner of conveying information. The advancements of technology have allowed using the Internet for distance learning. However, to ensure the adequate efficiency of online learning, appropriate teaching strategies should be implemented. The recent pandemic has restricted many traditional venues for teaching, thus forcing educational institutions to switch to learning without physical contact. It is important to evaluate the efficiency of contemporary teaching strategies about traditional methods.

Effective Online Teaching Strategies

Before the coronavirus became an issue, the Internet had been used to facilitate learning and explore different variants of teaching. Meyer (2020) points out that the best practices included online discussions. Forums became a common platform for sharing opinions and arguing a viewpoint on the Internet. The logical continuation is the extension of online discussion to educational purposes. This is an effective online teaching strategy for two reasons. Firstly, it allows people to quickly outlay their thoughts using only their devices. Secondly, instructors can identify both individual mistakes and collective misconceptions by overlooking the entirety of the online discussion. As a result, it is an effective teaching strategy, which is not time-consuming.

Another strategy requires learners to consume information via online courses. Xu (2016) describes them as “an integrated learning program entirely accessible at any time and any place via a computer with an Internet connection” (p. 55). Subsequently, the advantages of online courses are evident – flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and access. Firstly, programs like these are not dependent upon timed class gatherings. Not only does it not require a teacher to be present during the completion of the assignments, but it also frees students from following a strict learning schedule. Finally, it is accessible from anywhere since presence is not necessary for getting acquainted with the material.

While these strategies solve the problem of learning without physical interaction, they are only sufficient for theoretical knowledge. Many areas of study require students to develop practical skills, which are impossible to acquire without being present. Benitez et al. (2020) provide an example of an innovative educational solution for practice-based learning. The researchers suggested using a robot arm for laboratory tasks. The Internet of Things technology enables the device to function at a distance. Benitez et al. (2020) argue that “the robot arm can be used to demonstrate important topics, which are shown by programming simple and complex motions using the Denavit-Hartenberg methodology” (p. 2). Provided the successful implementation of such technology, it can bring an action-based learning strategy to the online level.

Comparison to Other Strategies

Online teaching is a relatively new entrance in the field of learning, therefore, it is important to dissect its effectiveness about other types, like presentation, interaction, and action strategies. The first and the most common method of conveying information, which adheres to the presentation strategy, is lecturing. The benefits of lectures stem from the combination of time efficiency and a large number of recipients of information (Xu, 2016). The physical proximity of a teacher also produces certain pressure on students to learn, which is not as prevalent in the virtual medium. However, the use of a video conference can replicate the effect of sharing information with many individuals.

Another traditional teaching strategy is based on the interaction between students. For instance, Xu (2016) writes that recreating artificial scenarios in a professional setting has been utilized for decades. This is the aspect that makes it superior to online teaching, as the current technology can not provide students with scenario-based learning from home. Virtual reality can resolve this issue, however, it is not widely accessible. The interaction produces the best results when all participants see each other and can practice skills in the real world.

Finally, the action strategy presupposes tasking students with completing tasks to evaluate their practical mastery. It is especially important to learners of highly technical fields, such as physics, chemistry, biology, and other subjects, which require laboratory conditions. The aforementioned robot arm can resolve this issue via Wi-Fi technology (Benitez et al., 2020). However, it applies to a narrow area (robotics), and creating similar solutions for other fields of study is expensive and is not available to most of the population. As a result, online learning so far does not constitute a viable alternative to action teaching strategies.

Comparison to Face-to-Face Methods

Online teaching is similar to traditional face-to-face teaching because the primary principle is the same. Fahara and Castro (2015) define face-to-face modality as “the degree to which communication behaviors facilitate physical or psychological closeness in interpersonal communication” (p. 363). In essence, direct verbal interaction between teachers and students fostered psychological closeness. The most peculiar aspect of this connection is that it does not necessitate physical presence for the interaction to be fruitful.

If the majority of the valuable information is conveyed in a written form or is verbalized, the Internet can execute the same function. Such platforms as Skype, Viber, WhatsApp, and Zoom can deliver calling services, which can be used for lessons. In some ways, they are more convenient when most of the studied materials are digital. It is easier to send them by e-mail or the respective messenger than to have both the student and the teacher look at the same screen. Moreover, such lessons can be recorded and revisited later, which is not possible with real-life interactions unless one of the parties uses recording equipment.

At the same time, face-to-face interaction has certain features, which are not possible in an online session. Fahara and Castro (2015) point to the presence of a teacher as a “potential predictor of instructional effectiveness” (p. 365). The researchers believe that proximity between teachers and students is an important factor in successful learning. Nonverbal communication, which cannot be transmitted online, can make a difference in effectively conveying the material. In this regard, online strategies cannot supplant older face-to-face learning because of the inability to use the psychological effect produced by the presence in learning.

Conclusion

Altogether, it is evident that online teaching strategies are becoming more and more prevalent. Not only is future education likely to incorporate the Internet into teaching, but it is also likely to switch to online learning in some areas entirely. Online platforms allow connecting people and delivering the needed information quickly, without being physically present or having to fit a fixed schedule. Digital materials are better dissected on individual devices than on face-to-face lessons. Nevertheless, when it comes to practice-based learning, technology can not provide an adequate online alternative. Therefore, the more actual skills have to be mastered, the fewer online teaching strategies are effective.

References

Benitez, V. H., Symonds, R., & Elguezabal, D. E. (2020). . HardwareX, 1-23.

Fahara, M. F., & Castro, A. L. (2015). Teaching strategies to promote immediacy in online graduate courses. Open Praxis, 7(4), 363-376. Web.

Meyer, B. (2020). . Higher Learning Research Communications. 11(0). 10-32.

Xu, J. H. (2016). . Chinese Nursing Research, 3(2), 54-57.

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