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The Benefits of Online Learning by Andrew Swift

Due to recent events, unprecedented in our lifetimes, reality has turned on its head, and, as a result, we have had to change our schedules and routines accordingly. Instinct compels us to improvise to adapt and overcome situations like this. When done correctly, we can come out of a crisis better off. 


For those of us fortunate enough to have a job that we can continue remotely, the transition from working in a physical office space to the home office was quite a seamless one. The same is true for many students changing from classroom to online learning. There are many personal and professional benefits to online learning and even data to back it up!


Efficiency and flexibility

It goes without saying that distance learning is a much more time-efficient practice than face to face lessons. We can observe this in several ways. Firstly and most importantly is that, if you study away from your workplace, the amount of time you have to be away from it can be significant. It is the same for teachers who have to go to different locations to teach. Switching to remote classes increases flexibility and results in fewer sessions being canceled, postponed, or cut short due to work commitments or logistical problems. I can confirm from experience how simple it is to reschedule online classes, thus improving efficiency and avoiding disruption in the learning process. 


Not only is it a more time-effective option, but it also offers teachers and students alike more opportunities as to where the lesson takes place. Effectively, all you need is a quiet place with a computer and an internet connection. You could have it at home, in your office, in a cafe and anywhere else you see fit. You could even be in a different country! 


Saving time on the commute gives you more time to get on with additional tasks and can cut down on stress and travel expenses (nobody likes those!). It also allows you to utilize your time for personal or social activities and to spend more time with friends and family.


Study in the comfort of your own home

In addition to the fact that it is more convenient for the majority of us, having a lesson at home may have other gains. 


First of all, studying from home allows you to feel more at ease and enjoy your English lesson in a calmer and more peaceful environment, which can have a positive impact on you in other ways. For example, the familiar setting of your own flat or house is much less intimidating than that of a classroom or office space. It helps people relax more, feel more comfortable when interacting with others, and in turn, will put an entirely new and positive complexion on the learning experience.


It improves your language skills

Another beneficial factor for students is the fact that it can improve your all-round skills. The importance of developing listening skills is well-known among teachers. Taking part in a lesson on an online platform requires the student to focus more on listening and reading. Listening and reading exercises help develop our passive vocabulary. Our passive vocabulary is always much more extensive than our active vocabulary. To make words from this lexis active, we must read and hear these words as well as say and write them. 


In English, we have the expression; first-hand - which means from your own experience or knowledge. It was the case for one of my students who told me how he is no longer apprehensive of having telephone or video calls in English since we started having lessons online. It was nice to hear as he used to dread the situation previously. 


Making a telephone call in a different language is an important milestone and progress marker. Even so, some people still dislike it and try to avoid it at all costs. Sometimes we force ourselves to leave our comfort zones consciously, sometimes it happens by chance, as I found out today. 


Online learning platforms

The English proverb; Necessity is the mother of invention, rings true here. While E-learning platforms are not necessarily a new invention, the numerous lockdowns imposed in most countries this year have created a massive demand for these platforms. With that demand comes a requirement for reliable service, one which the technology gods duly provided, and I can confirm how welcome it was. 


Now we have a wide range of platforms to choose from, and surely everyone has their favourite. With features such as the screen sharing option, interactive whiteboard, and remote control functions, there are many ways to stay engaged and up to speed with what is happening in the lesson. In my opinion, using the screen share option is a more effective method to analyze writing compositions and reading exercises. I also feel that interactive whiteboards are better as they save time, resources, and provide greater clarity than their non-virtual predecessors. 


All in all, I believe that the use of digital resources and platforms is something we will only see more and more of in the future. Moreover, ditching physical materials is a more environmentally and economically friendly option in the long run. 


The data backs it up

If more proof is needed, we have it in its most well-rounded form, data.


Albert Einstein once said, “Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance, you must keep moving.” and the same is true in business. You have to move with the times. Data shows that E-learning is a rapidly growing market. It has grown massively since the turn of the century, and we anticipate it to keep on growing at a significant rate. There is plenty of data available on how it reduces costs, improves time-efficiency, retention rates, productivity, and revenue. It also allows students to cover more material. What is more, it is eco-friendly. 


Moving forward, not backward

To sum up, there is a wealth of benefits to studying online. In times like this, when it is by far the most practical option, we should embrace change and not dwell on the negative. To give up or abandon a skill like speaking a second language isn’t a good thing, even more so when you have worked so hard to achieve it in the first place. Although some people will still prefer to have face to face lessons, there is still a lot to gain from the online variant. I hope that someone reading this will decide to try it out and start moving forward again towards their goals. 

Andrew Swift, brit anyanyelvi mentor