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In the past few years and even more so recently with the challenges created by the Covid epidemic, there seems to be a growing interest in the role that online teaching can play in the field of education. It has prompted the educated elite to examine how online teaching can improve academic programs and provide students with more options. Similarly, it has also caused them to express some concerns about the practicality and effectiveness of online teaching and its contribution to making significant improvements in the education sector. The purpose of this essay is twofold, firstly to evaluate the effectiveness of Online Teaching and secondly to examine to what extent online courses can replace traditional classroom teaching.
Present-day students are a lot more computer and technology savvy than any of our previous generations. Be it mundane activities that comprise playing, communicating, learning, socializing, etc., these all require the employment of a multitude of software applications. As a result, many institutions of learning have had to also adapt their curricula to include and cater to the demands of a generation that relies heavily on technology. It would appear that there is a subtle move away from exclusive textbook-based learning to technology-aided vibrant, interactive, relevant, and engaging lessons.
So, what factors contribute to the success and effectiveness of online teaching? Bailey, Schneider, and Vander outline several reasons why online teaching can be both successful and effective and amongst others tabulate the global reach of online teaching through the breaking down of academic and geographical barriers, the choice of a suitable and comfortable pace of teaching, and teaching environment, Competency-based assessments, continuous content, and technological developments and the reduced need for expensive physical infrastructure and learning spaces. Barbour further highlights that online teaching assists in providing a wider variety of academic courses and students benefit greatly from actively engaging in a learning environment that is conducive to gaining a set of practical skills which are much needed in a workplace environment. There are continuous developments with regard to learning platforms and newer and improved versions are often found to be more teacher-friendly with particular advancements being made in terms of assessment tools that aid in measuring students’ progress and competence.
Based on research conducted by the United States Department of Education and studies by the National Training and Simulation Association, it was found that technology-based teaching can reduce the time students take to reach a learning objective by 30-80% cited by the Federal Communications Commission. Several additional research projects further revealed that student performance in exclusively online courses was similar, if not better than in traditional, face-to-face classes.
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