The Challenge of Distance Learning: How We Can Help

By General Education Advice, Student Mastery

I have been teaching college courses online for nearly 20 years.  My students are highly motivated adult learners who are finishing their degrees, usually because it will help lead to distinct career advancement. Still, they do not learn anywhere nearly as much as those that take in-person classes.  My classes – much like most current Coronavirus school classes – are “asynchronous”.  This means my lectures and assignments are posted.  Students complete their work.  There is some perfunctory discussion on our class discussion board and some feedback when I give grades.  Otherwise, the students are interacting with words on a computer screen.

When I first became involved in online teaching, I thought it would be far bigger.  It turns out that human nature beats convenience. We are social animals.  We need interpersonal give and take to feel engaged.

To be clear, in-person teaching is best.  But live online interaction – what’s called synchronous learning – is far, far, far better than reading on a computer screen or even looking at a video.  The level of engagement differs tremendously between the two.  Moreover, while we love teaching classes in any format, we certainly know that our one on one live tutoring is currently the best way that students can currently learn.

On that front, we have continued our tutoring – individual FaceTime/Zoom meetings – and our students have uniformly noted how good it feels to interact with a teacher in real-time.  More importantly, they are really learning as opposed to just getting through assignments.

There will be a large educational gap between students who were able to effectively use this time to build themselves and those that did not.  Let us help ensure that your child is on the right side of that divide.