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Online Learning - 7 prerequisites to make it a success!

Updated: May 17, 2021

Contemplating online learning?

What are the 7 prerequisites for successful online learning? Are you contemplating booking an online class or a virtual tutor? Good for you! Online learning is safe, effective, and fun!

Crisis learning

During the closure of schools worldwide due to Covid-19, many parents and students experienced online teaching for the first time. In fact, the online or distant learning provided by mostly inexperienced and unprepared (in the area of online teaching) classroom teachers was more some kind of crisis teaching than actual online learning. We should really make that distinction between the crisis teaching during the sudden lockdown and online courses. The closure of the schools came rather unexpectedly to all of all us. But actual high-quality online courses are prepared thoughtfully and thouroughly by experts.

So why would you even consider a virtual teacher or tutor for your children or yourself? Didn't the lockdown show that distant learning is totally ineffective? Let me explain the seven prerequisites of successful online learning to show you that online learning is actually a great means for students of all ages!

Here are the 7 prerequisites for successful online learning:

  1. Personal connection

  2. Use feedback

  3. Good internet connection

  4. Set goals

  5. Discuss your goals with your online teacher

  6. Persistance

  7. Time management

1. Personal connection

First of all, online teaching is a relatively new way of teaching. Similarily, teachers and tutors have taught in-class for hundreds of years. Apart from some distance-learning in very remote areas, most of us were taught in person. Humans need to communicate with each other not only through language but also through eye contact, mimic and gestures. That way we can understand the other's messages and feelings. Yes, feelings. We need to connect! Studies show that students learn best when they feel comfortable and protected in their learning environment, no matter if it is a classroom in a school building or on a beach, for instance.

Firstly, teachers know how to create an atmosphere of trust and positivity for their students to achieve their learning goals. However, it seems so much harder to notice a student's frown or gesture when the teacher is not in the same room. Nevertheless, a good teacher will notice when something is wrong and address it gently.

Secondly, even shy students who would never talk to their in-class teacher do feel more comfortable to talk openly with their 1:1 online teacher. Why? Well, because it is a very small circle and the connection to the teacher could actually become deeper than with an in-class teacher who needs to oversee 30 students! Some of my shier students actually started thriving during distant learning because I could give them more of my undivided attention. Therefore, it was easier for them to address their needs and thoughts. They couldn't hide behind louder and more active students.

2. Feedback

Thirdly, an essential aspect of successful learning is feedback through the teacher. Now, when you think back to your school days or see the feedback your child is getting in school, you know that not all homework will be corrected and evaluated by the teacher. And that is absolutely ok. The in-class teacher can check during the day and give some verbal feedback.

However, when the student is struggling or would like to achieve even more than the average student, profound and extensive feedback can go a long way! Often teachers make a great effort to give a lengthy, comprehensible feedback and they spend much time with it. However, the student doesn't always understand the feedback and might be too shy to ask for clarification. Imagine the carefully composed essay would be evaluated and you could actually discuss the feedback with your teacher and understand it! That is not always feasible in a full classroom. Just imagine the possibilities.

In conclusion, online learning can be a big success for students as they can connect even more with their online teacher than with their in-class teacher. Because online classes are usually small or even 1:1, it is often easier to talk and students get more time with their teacher. In addition, the feedback from an online teacher is immediate and personal, and the students can actually discuss the feedback to understand it and improve!

3. Good internet connection

One of the most important prerequisites for successful online learning is a good internet connection. If your internet connection is weak, for example, you may experience interruptions and disturbances during your online class. Consequently, these disruptions may alter your and your teacher's ability to communicate and to react to each other's actions appropriately. So you need to make sure your internet is stable and running to achieve the best outcome for your online lesson.

Sometimes a good internet connection is out of your reach because you live in a very rural area or it is simply too expensive for you. In that case, instead of throwing your online learning plans aboard, try to find a good place where you can get free wifi and still work rather without being disturbed. Many libraries offer free wifi for online learning participants. They are often a huge help to guide you to a quiet place to work.

Secondly, online classes can be experienced as stressful for some participants. It is hard work for your brain! Because students have to focus on a screen for a prolonged period of time, young children shouldn't be expected to work online more than 30 - 45 minutes each day. Frustrations and a feeling of being overwhelmed would be the result . And we don't want that!

4. Set goals

The best online teacher cannot help you to full extend if you aren't sure about your learning goals. Of course, a good teacher will be able to find out what you need and what you like even if you keep shrugging your shoulders when asked about your goals. Even if you just mumble "improving in French" the teacher will eventually find out what exactly you need to be better in French. Maybe you lack listening skills or you need more practice writing sentences. Maybe even both! But the teacher can find out your challenges.

The question is, however, how much you are willing and able to pay for the teacher to find out. Try to look at your tests if you want to improve. Where did you get the most points? Which parts were difficult for you? That will give you an idea on where to start working.

If you are planning on learning something new, a language for example, you should ask yourself why you want to learn it and what you want to do with it. Do you want to learn Italian because you find Italy exciting and you want to travel there one day? Or do you learn it because your new job includes frequent travels to Italy?

However, it is not always easy to figure out yourself where the hare is buried. So even if you have just a vague idea of what you would like to do, a teacher will find out! However, why waste time and money if you could take a moment to assess your challenges and goals? Ideally, the teacher can provide an assessment form for you to go over so that you can start with effectively right away!

5. Discuss your online learning goals with your online teacher

Remember when you went to school as a kid and waited - sometimes anxiously - for the beginning of the new school year to find out who your new teacher would be? And more importantly, what would she or he be like? Will she or he be nice? What if you don't like her or him at all? What if you two just don't fit?

Sometimes a whole school year is in peril because teacher and students just cannot find common grounds. Teachers will usually try different methods and strategies to ensure everybody's success and they strive to treat everybody the same. However, teachers are only human beings, too, and they have to teach a whole class of sometimes 30 kids, not just you. So all effort might be in vain.

Naturally, you won't really know your online teacher before your first lesson. But if you find out that the two of you really don't match at all, students' needs can be met much more easily than in a brick-and-stone school. Your online teacher can adjust his or her lesson plans faster. Including methods to your specific needs and wishes - and that is a huge pro! Make sure your online teacher knows exactly which lessons and activities you like the most and which methods you don't like at all. That way, your online teacher will be able to make the perfect lessons just for you. Doesn't that sound great?

6. Persistance

Firstly, your teacher knows many strategies to keep you happy and motivated. After all, he or she wants to get you the best online course in order to keep you as a student (and costomer). However, the online teacher cannot make you switch on the computer and follow the course. Working with an online course means you will need some self-motivation to have the best results. It so easy to just postpone the online course from one day to another, so you need to be persistent to learn.

Picture yourself, eager to learn and ready to start your newly purchased online course. But for some technical reason you cannot open the course. How would you react? Will you try to come up with a solution, ask for help and accept the challenge? Or will you give up and watch Netflix instead? You really need to motivate yourself, ask for help and manage your time yourself in order to succeed.

As a parent, you will need to make sure your child can access the course and help your child with any technical difficulties. And if you don't know the answer, ask your teacher or technical support to get help.

7. Time Management

Let's face it: It is rather easy to see an interesting online course and think "Oh I've always wanted to learn/improve this!" and you will feel even more motivated to book the course when it's a great offer. However, make sure to check when you can take the course and to recheck your own time schedule. There is not much use in just watching a course or let the teacher work through the lesson if you do not really have the time to do some additional worksheet or repetitions.

Nevertheless, that is not to say that you could eventually achieve your goal if you just work on the topic of the online course during the course. But think about it: Will a student who decides to learn Japanese online be successful if he participates in an online class once a week without doing any additional work? He will be, but it will take him much longer than his classmate who practices Japanese outside the classroom and revises his coursework independently offline.

So you need to figure out if you would like to take it slow (and spend more money) or if you would like to see good results in a short period of time. In addition, make sure to choose an online course topic you are really interested in and would like to spend more time with in order to keep yourself motivated.

Get ready for online learning!

All in all, with the right prerequisites in place, online learning can be a full success! Make sure you have a good internet connection, engage with your teacher and set goals, use feedback and time management to achieve your goals. Last but not least: Be persistent!

When you are ready to take an online class or hire an online teacher, look for our amazing online courses and offers! Our teachers are certified and very experienced in teaching online and in-class. Take our assessment test now and we can give you a detailed feedback on your needs. Contact us today!


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