According to Forbes, distance learning was introduced in 1892. The University of Chigago created the first college level distance learning programme and lessons and materials were sent by post.
A little be later somewhere in the 1900s, Australian children were home-schooled - with the help of the School of Isolated and Distance Education, since their farms were too far from cities and villages and they did not have access to normal schools.
Online programmes have started around 1989 by the Uviversity of Phoenix and 2011 we had the first MOOC.
Since then, people have been learning online, no matter what subject or skill, gaining valuable knowledge, as well as university degrees from the comfort of their own home.
Nowadays, there are various plattforms free and paid, which give you the opportunity to learn with professors and proffesionals from all around the world.
Of course there have always been the traditional schools and universities, which are the most common and when somebody thinks of education, these will be the ones that will come to mind.
So, to speak about my field, has online learning improved language education?
I would say yes. We have the chance to use so many online software and apps, create exercises, watch videos, use authentic materials, have access to so much information and use it to our students' advantage.
A lot of teachers, though, insist that this is not the way to learn. That human communication was lost.
Well, if you ask me, it depends. Some teachers around the world have classes with 50 students. Was there any human communication when they were in class? Does the teacher know everyone by name? Their preferences, their struggles? Most of the times, no. So why should online teaching be worse? When all students have the chance to participate, to ask questions (in writing most of the time), even the shy ones?
In small classes, where you know your students a bit better, especially if they are young, what's missing is movement. Having studied a lot about kinaesthetic teaching and having presented in various conventions and schools, I can see that kinaesthetic activities do help children learn better and create a more pleasant atmosphere.
But, when you are in the middle of a pandemic, when people die every day, then you have to compromise, I guess.
I am not talking about on to one lessons. There is NO difference whatsoever if you are teaching face to face or online. For me, absolutely nothing has changed.
What has changed?
Maybe the role of the teacher? More preparation, more coordinating, less problems with dicipline.
The role of the student? They have so many opportunities to research, get to know more things, like technology, which will help them later in the world of work.
What do we need to do from now on?
I believe that online / blended/ hybrid teaching is here to stay. No matter if we face a new pandemic again or not.
Teachers have to get the proper training on how to use platforms and create materials. Be prepared to face any difficult situation that will come.
I hope the world changes and teachers with obsolete beliefs will come round. For everybody's shake.
*inspired by the webinars of Pearson Spring days webinars