According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there were over 6.6 million students taking distance learning courses at post-secondary level institutions in early 2017. Over the past few years, the number of distance learners at the post-secondary level has continued to grow even as college enrollment drops across the country.
Both students and educators now seem more appreciative of the flexibility, freedom, and convenience afforded by learning and teaching remotely. Thanks to advancements in web-based and telecommunication technologies, modern distance learning offers a massive improvement to the correspondence education model. Today, teachers can easily offer live courses in virtual classrooms and interact with their students in real-time.
Advantages of distance learning
Remote learning is now more popular than ever before. There are several reasons why more and more educators and students are attracted to this progressive model of learning:
- Remote learning saves both time and money (commuting cost, campus accommodation, tuition fees, books, etc.)
- Online courses can be tailored to individual students’ needs, which makes teaching more effective
- Students can learn from anywhere in the world as long as they have an internet connection, educators can also teach from anywhere
- Learners can take courses at their own pace
- The flexible learning environment allows both students and teachers to balance coursework and other responsibilities or jobs
- Learners have access to curated E-learning material and professional educators from across the globe
The goal of remote training and teaching is to mimic the familiar physical learning environment as closely as possible, while still leveraging the unique benefits of using advanced technology. If you’re looking to become part of the fastest-growing education trend, here is what you need to know about remote teaching.
Decide on your level of involvement
The first step in becoming a remote educator is to determine the level of involvement with your students. How much time and effort are you willing to put into your online classes? Are you planning to offer a teaching service or only create learning material? The answers to these questions largely depend on what you want to teach and your commitment to the process.
If you’re teaching a college class on theoretical subjects, it might make sense to hold live synchronous classrooms with your students. But if your field involves practical subjects, it’s more convenient to provide remote training material such as videos. You can hold live sessions when necessary.
Go solo or affiliate with an institution
Decide on whether you want to go solo or partner with a learning institution. It might seem attractive to brand yourself as an educator, but you’ll have to lay a lot of groundwork before getting started. Basically, you’ll have to attract the relevant students, set up the learning platform, and come up with an effective curriculum and schedule. It’s a lot of heavy lifting, but the results are highly rewarding.
Many educators choose to skip all the preliminary work and teach under a corporate umbrella. Working with an institution will require you to abide by their teaching systems and styles. The host institution may also want to see specific credentials that may require extra training to obtain. There is limited flexibility when teaching under an institution’s name, but everything from the enabling resources to students is provided.
Choose the suitable tools
Currently, there are several websites, platforms, and software tools designed to facilitate distance education. Some of them are free to use, and others charge a fee in one way or another. The nature of your teaching material and your teaching style should determine the most suitable platform and tools to use.
Remember to put learning first and technology second. You shouldn’t have to adjust any of your critical methods to align your classroom or training sessions with the features of a particular platform. Look into remote teaching platforms such as Canvas, Udemy, and RCampus, or online course hosts such as Thinkific, Skillshare, and Teachable to find the right fit for your teaching needs.
Take care of tests and certification
Students expect to be tested and awarded certificates to mark the completion of a course. After remote training, make sure that your students sit for a standardized examination and get internationally recognized certifications.
If you choose to teach as an independent educator, you may have to get help from a third-party examiner and certification institution. Otherwise, the partner organization should take care of examinations, qualifications, and accreditations. A certificate or diploma is proof of competence and comes in handy in the job market.
The global E-learning market is projected to surpass $243 billion by 2022. In the past, only higher learning institutions offered distance learning. Today, high schools and tertiary institutions have picked up the trend as well. Although we shouldn’t expect distance learning to take over traditional schools in the foreseeable future, there is still a vast and growing potential for remote teaching in the coming years.