These are definitely interesting times we are all living. Online education was brought to the spotlight rather more violently than we were expecting and as a result there are opinions and “specialists” talking about it everywhere you look. Some of these opinions include people who believe that online education will bring the end of the world or the much anticipated rise of the machines. Others are more collected although burdened with anxiety. One thing all of them have in common is that they are all myths that we need to bust…
“Online education is inferior because of its lack of human contact”
This could absolutely be true, if by online education we mean a recorded lesson, or a telephone lesson or a lesson that looks more like a lecture, with a teacher talking continuously and the students probably falling asleep behind their switched off cameras. If we are talking about online classes that are conducted by specially-trained educators, with special technological tools, with a well-thought plan and method, the contact between teachers and students can potentially be even more substantial and meaningful. Due to its nature, an online class does not end with the click of a button. Teachers have to keep in touch with their students throughout the week and as a result students tend to feel very close to them having entrusted them with their dreams, thoughts and anxieties. The bond is unique and it frankly lasts forever.
“Knowledge is achieved through dialogue and online education cannot offer that”
Half of this sentence is 100% accurate. True knowledge is acquired through dialogue. This is a teaching belief that dates as far back as Socrates. What makes this sentence a myth, however, is the misconception that online education lacks in dialogue. Quite the contrary. Online education doesn’t have room for a lesson that favors teacher-speaking time. The student must be the focal point. In order for an online class to work, students need to constantly interact with each other, with their teacher as well as with all the media that make an online class possible. Besides, an online lesson in its core intends to use advanced technological tools that facilitate the idea of equal learning opportunities for students of different intelligences, skills and abilities and this can only be ensured with the student at the epicenter.
«Online teaching is much easier for a teacher»
This must come from the common misbelief that online teachers work in their pajama bottoms, because other than that it doesn’t make a lot of sense. First of all, before starting to actually teach online an online teacher needs to have some relevant training that will help them understand the differences and similarities between a traditional and a virtual class as well as the need for online-oriented approaches that are of course based on the good traditions of a “real-life” classroom. Teaching online might be twice or three times harder than conventional teaching and it often requires double or triple the time to prepare beforehand. An online teacher must prepare presentations, work with applications, follow each student’s homework progress and often power through issues that come up due to different internet connection speeds and computers. It is so much fun if you like it, but you wouldn’t say it is easy.
“Online education pushes students towards the virtual world instead of real life”
In fact, online education is children’s break from the virtual world of online gaming and social media. Online education and online educators carry the responsibility of showing students how to control technology. It gives students the tools and knowledge that they need to be safe while navigating the virtual world throughout their lives. It would be unrealistic to think that we can keep children far from technology, screens and the internet while it is the present and future of the way we study, work and live. What’s great with online education, though, is that it actually teaches children to use technology as a facilitator, as a tool and as a necessary part of their lives instead of treating it as a reward that comes with good grades.
The future is here, all we have to do is trust but verify….