ESL Teaching News: English Learning Goes Online

Is your school prepared for the invasion of online courses? This has been a common topic in the education world. How should schools prepare to either ride the wave of online-learning or continue to use traditional material in their classrooms? We posit that there is room for both types of teaching.

As we have seen in many developing nations, students study at brick and mortar schools for years, but progress at a very slow rate. Those students who have a higher disposable income, or are better educated or curious are looking for new solutions. Students are trying out different online-learning courses, especially for English. English programs are literally popping up every day, gaining space in the market and piquing students interest.

Now let's compare the current model and these new online entrants. If we discuss the cost of a school and its physical space, the current model is at a disadvantage. Educational institutions pay much money for campuses, classrooms and auxiliary buildings. Many times, schools do not have space to take on more students, thus strangling the possibility of increasing revenues. On the other hand, online schools and services focus on reaching the masses. Their goal is to bring on as many students as possible. Now of course this is easy to say, but there is a catch. Online schools have a high cost to create; unless you are paying royalties to use Cambridge or Pearson material, you will have to develop your own curriculum. The development of an online learning platform is very expensive and takes a long time to do and get right. English teaching professionals and Information Technology specialists must work together to create a balance of content with user friendly interests. If a school can successfully create its own curriculum and platform, test it, and receive good user feedback, it is on a good track. Once an online curriculum has been created, there are minor fees for maintenance and internet service. So, the more students you can bring on to take the course, the more money you make.

At middle and high school levels in America, ESL teachers plan and create some of their own material. They strive to deliver classes that students will enjoy learning. Teachers might not share their curriculum with other teachers. On most online platforms, you can see what is being taught throughout the whole course. This helps teachers to be better aligned with the course content, and is useful for team teaching and cross-subject classes. Knowing exactly what is being taught can help teachers fill in any gaps, add additional relevant content, reinforce lessons, and save time.

There will always be pros and cons to learning online vs. learning in the classroom. The new challenge to education is to create a balance of live classroom content while utilizing the robust technological platforms.