In the seventies, when I used to imagine what life would be like in the twenty-first century, I would envisage a world run by technology. I was particularly obsessed with robots and I wrote a story in my second year of infants, in which square robots came down from another planet and took the place of humans. Flash forward to 2018 and although we haven’t yet met the square robots I wrote about, the advances in technology have been monumental. So much so, that perhaps even the very popular show, Tomorrow’s World could never have imagined how far we would come.
Online learning has become very popular with almost all educational organisations offering courses using a variety of videos, forums and computer programs to satisfy man’s need for self-education. I’ve done quite a few courses myself. I’ve done some writing courses with Laura Jane Williams. With these, I would be sent a video link, a pdf and then homework to complete and send via email. My work would be marked and returned to me. These courses worked well for a busy mother who also works, as I could fit my learning around my commitments. I didn’t need to go to a college at a set time. However, no technology could replace the benefits of having my work seen and marked by a teacher. I’ve also done some writing courses with Curtis Brown. Again, these would involve watching videos, reading through material on a pdf and then completing homework. However, with these courses my work was not marked by a tutor. I had to place the work on the forum for feedback from other students. This was a great idea to discuss writing with other writers, but I would have preferred some personal feedback from a teacher. It’s also essential when completing an online course that you possess a great deal of self-discipline and motivation.
I’ve also been involved in teaching online. I worked for a company who provided bespoke tuition to schools. This was done through the programme Blackboard, which provides an online virtual classroom. The beauty of the company was that it could tailor each lesson according to the individual. Students would be given an individual learning plan, which would provide additional support in preparation for SATS and GCSE. The company also supported students who were home-schooled or who were unable to go into school. A tutor would be given up to five students, set them up on an individual programme and then watch their progress online. This system used speech as a method of communication but no video. It worked very well, provided that the students were motivated. It was harder to work with students who were not supervised or who lacked motivation. I also worked with students in China, Japan and Peru teaching them English as a Foreign Language. The difficulties at times, were that some countries do not always have a reliable internet connection and there was always a time difference. So sometimes you might have to work extremely late in the evening or incredibly early in the morning. I really enjoyed my time working for the company. However, I missed the team camaraderie and human interaction of working in an actual educational establishment.
I have recently started to teach online at the Kip McGrath centre where I tutor. The Kip McGrath model of online learning, once again ensures that from the convenience of your own home, you can connect with a live tutor via your PC in real time via the online portal. Students can experience the same teaching and resources as in any Kip McGrath centre. In the Kip model, students can see and hear the tutor. The program also alerts the tutor if the student flicks to a new website online. Tutors online are the same tutors who work in centres. Students access the program through a secure portal.
I think there are a lot of advantages to online learning. The most significant of these, is the convenience, especially if someone is unable to find a tutor in their area, or if someone is unable to go into school because of health reasons or bullying, or even if someone doesn’t have the time or means of transport to attend a lesson in a centre. But one of the greatest disadvantages, is that it requires a great deal of self-discipline and motivation. It lacks human interaction and undeniably one of the most important criteria for success in learning, is how well the student interacts with their teacher. I doubt that online learning will ever be able to replace schools and colleges. Yet it goes a long way in ensuring that education is now far more accessible to all.
I’d be very interested to hear of your experience of online learning.
If you are interested further in how the Kip McGrath Onscreen works, then details can be found at https://www.kipmcgrath.co.uk/onscreen-tutoring They offer a free, no-obligation assessment of your child’s strengths and weaknesses.