Are online courses effective ?

What is worth compared to face-to-face courses?

This question has been on everyone’s mind since the beginning of the confinement last March. Before that, even though online training had existed for many years, the education model remained that of the physical classroom with a teacher in front of a group of students, a blackboard and books. Was this a good model? Certainly, since it worked for several centuries. However, this model had never been questioned not only because it was effective but also because no alternative was known. However, today’s technological resources and above all the urgency of the pandemic have led to the emergence of competition from online courses, Zoom, Teams, Skype.

The variety of training courses available today and the ease with which they can be set up make it a much sought-after tool in companies: online or offline support, individual or group learning, with or without the presence of a trainer, the possibility of recording the course and listening to it again.

Which teaching is best suited to your situation?

If so, how do you know what is best for you personally? Let’s first try to understand the negative view one has of each formula and let’s also look at their positive points.

Generally speaking, when companies offer distance courses to their employees, they are reluctant because they think the company is stingy (it can’t even afford a real teacher!), the students are alone (distance from the teacher), sometimes you don’t feel able to deal with the problems linked to the technology, you are afraid of not having clear and precise explanations, of misremembering the rules, afraid that there is no pedagogical follow-up.

In compensation, the virtual classroom is instantaneous. You get out of bed or out of your workplace, get a makeover and turn on the computer at the time agreed with the teacher, and voilà, you are already in the classroom, without losing time and money on the road. Furthermore, you can follow the course from the office, from a hotel or practically anywhere you are, as long as you have an internet connection.

Furthermore, face-to-face courses are criticised for being outdated and inefficient, boring (grammar, writing), difficult to plan (travel, too long course…), incompatible with professional and family life. The face-to-face class requires travel, either from the teacher (to the pupil’s home) or from the pupil to the academy. It takes time, and also costs money, or petrol, or public transport. On the other hand, they have the advantage of allowing a privileged interaction with a teacher, they seem more human. Communication is facilitated by physical presence.

In the end, the two options are very different but one cannot really be said to be better than the other because there are advantages and disadvantages on both sides.

Another way of looking at learning

While both have advantages and disadvantages, there is one important element that is not much talked about and that I would like to highlight here. The virtual course allows you to look at your own learning from a different perspective and to optimise it. First of all, the online course requires more attention and concentration than the face-to-face course because you can only rely on your hearing, as the visual aspect is more limited. For language courses, this aspect is particularly interesting because, as the demand for concentration is higher in the Skype class, you are obliged to sharpen your hearing at a higher speed. This is what we call active teaching. Although the online course may seem more distant, it gives you access to a greater number of resources and activities that develop your creativity. To be even more precise, what works best is to take advantage of the services (video, instant messaging) to personalise the course for each student. The use of technology is thus a way of being more active, of learning by doing rather than just listening. The more interactive the course is, the more you will increase the benefits by making it your own, either independently. You will feel that you are really in charge of your own learning.

In addition, the distance learning will help you get to know each other better. Because you will be more involved in the mechanisms of your own learning, you will know whether you are more visual or whether you learn better by listening. If you need to write every day or if you need a few days break to digest the lesson. you will become more involved in your learning process.

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