There is always an initial resistance and scepticism towards a new form of technology. It is true that online education – whether at a secondary school, college, or postgraduate level – has its share of drawbacks when compared to traditional brick-and-mortar teaching.
Traditionally-minded educators have argued that online education compromises the social nature of learning (since students may also see their lecturers in videos and interact with their course mates via message boards). With the large numbers of students enrolled in Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC), instructors cannot provide individualized feedback to any one student (or even grade individual assignments – peer reviews or multiple choice exams are the order of the day).
This lack of face-to-face interaction is less of an issue when it comes to online teaching on a smaller scale. An online tutor can still teach the same number of students (or less) than his or her classroom counterpart. As the success of the Khan Academy has demonstrated, the subject of mathematics was one of the first to be taught to a large number of students via online learning.
Here are seven ways in which mathematics education benefits from online tutoring:
1) Students can learn at their own pace
Classroom teachers typically set the pace of their instruction based on the average student in the class. This means that the brighter students will be bored and being taught what they already know. Meanwhile, the poorer students will be unable to keep up and will continue to lag behind. By allowing students to access lesson videos (or to record online sessions), students have more flexibility to skip the material they already understand or pause to focus on what they find to be particularly challenging.
2) Tutors can provide specialized instruction
By allowing students to learn at their own pace, online tutors have a greater ability to provide individualized instruction to each student. While some students comfortably learn on their own, they can provide more assistance to those who are struggling with specific parts of the syllabus.
This is a similar benefit to one found in the 5 Benefits of English teaching over the classroom. Read by clicking the image below:
3) Tutors have more control over the students in the class
In a traditional classroom (especially in Asian countries where students attend almost every subject as an entire unit), a teacher often has little to no control over the variation in subject proficiency in his or her class. Even in an online setting, it is still difficult to teach a group of students with widely differing aptitudes in mathematics. With an online class, a tutor can reduce the variation in academic aptitude as much as possible.
4) Some forms of testing can be made more efficient
Tutors can save time by automatizing the marking of multiple choice tests – without needing to spend time supervising in-class examinations. (Electronic means of testing and homework submission also usually means that less paper is used in the process).
5) Minimal social distraction
Peer-to-peer interactions are a vital part of learning, but peer socialization can also provide distractions in the form of bullying, flirtations, and rivalries. These can be minimized with online teaching.
6) Location is no longer an issue
This applies to any subject being taught online, and not just mathematics. With online teaching, tutors do not have to limit themselves to the students living nearby. They thus have more leeway to assemble a classroom filled with students who have a similar aptitude.
7) Tutors can utilize helpful online software
Putting together and maintaining a classroom with well-functioning computers or laptops for each student is not an easy feat for a secondary school institution. With online teaching, tutors can usually be assured that their students each have access to a personal computer. They can thus rely on digital teaching tools, platforms, and online resources without being as limited by the traditional school’s financial and logistical constraints.
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