• Michael Hirsch

4 Reasons to Embrace Online Learning

woman in yellow shirt writing on white paper

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many schools across the globe to transition to virtual learning in the hopes of avoiding damaging academic disruptions. As a practitioner of online teaching for the past 14 years, I thought now might be an appropriate time to share my experiences with this format and tout what I believe to be the principal benefits of online learning.

Access to Better Educators Perhaps the most compelling reason to embrace virtual learning modalities is that it affords students access to expert instruction they never had before. Whereas students in previous generations could only enroll in classes or receive tutoring from institutions in close geographical proximity, students now can access elite educators from literally anywhere in the world. As both an English writing instructor and SAT/ACT test prep specialist, it is not uncommon for me to work remotely with students from Asian and European countries who cite how difficult it is to find expert tutors in these fields where they reside. Thus, I view online learning as the great equalizer for those who do not live in locations with strong academic options.

Efficacy of Online Learning One of the most common questions I am asked by parents is if online teaching is as effective as in-person instruction. While every learning situation truly is unique, I have found in my decade-plus of online teaching that the students I work with remotely tend to perform just as well as (if not better than) those I meet with in person. A counterintuitive claim to some, I believe these results can be attributed to the following two reasons: 1) many current millennial and Gen Z students have spent thousands of hours engaging with digital technologies and, as a result, often prefer to learn through virtual educational platforms and 2) instructors truly expert in virtual teaching technologies can optimize their lesson plans by seamlessly integrating several digital resources to reinforce the concepts they are imparting. Provided the student is motivated to learn and the instructor is well-versed in virtual teaching methods, there is not a doubt in my mind that online learning represents a viable scholastic option.

Scheduling Flexibility An often underappreciated benefit of online learning is its ability to help students conserve their most precious commodity: time. While commuting to and from brick & mortar locations takes students 30-60 minutes on average, telecommuting occurs in mere seconds. This time-saving windfall can help students dedicate more time to their studies and/or pursue additional activities. Moreover, telecommuting enables students to meet with tutors at previously unfeasible hours of the day. For example, I often meet with busy students early in the morning before school on test days as well as late in to the evening if a sporting event or recital runs late. The scheduling flexibility provided by digital learning truly affords students the opportunity to optimize their day.

Cost Savings I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention that your wallet will appreciate the switch to online learning. As someone who runs an independent tutoring firm, I can personally attest to the fact that digital teaching, especially in one-on-one settings, is a much more cost-effective option than in-person instruction. Students attending brick & mortar institutions incur rates that factor in additional costs associated with the educational institution (such as rent and insurance), while tutors who visit students’ homes often tack on transportation and/or commuting time fees. The only way to avoid these surcharges and ensure you are paying an instructor’s true hourly rate is via online teaching.

For all of these reasons, I highly recommend that families consider online tutoring and course options that suit their needs. I believe they will be happy they did!