Is online teaching as good as IRL?

I have read a lot about how online teaching isn’t as good as classroom teaching.   I myself agree that this is the case however I have come to realise that I have fallen into the generalisation trap.    I have bought into a simple argument that online teaching is either better or worse than real life, classroom, teaching, that there is a binary judgement to be made and that the world, in this case, is simple.    The world however isn’t simple and is seldom binary.     The line should read that online teaching isn’t generally as good as in real life teaching.

So, what brought me to this realisation?

I have seen some students absolutely excel in remote lessons, and not students who were previously excelling, but students who were struggling.    I am not sure if it is the added independence they have found online teaching has provided, the lack of peer pressure or something else, but they have excelled in terms of work rate, engagement and work quality.    Clearly for these students online teaching works better than teaching in a classroom.    These are the students who prove the assertion as fact, that “online teaching isn’t as good as real-life teaching” to be false.

Here for me lies the challenge as we move forward; How can we take these successes and translate them to the world of education as it will exist once we return to a semblance of normal, post pandemic?   How do we make sure that the students who have gained from online teaching, who find online teaching suits their needs, don’t lose out when we return to the bricks and mortar classroom?


Author: garyhenderson2014

Gary Henderson is currently the Director of IT in an Independent school in the UK. Prior to this he worked as the Head of Learning Technologies working with public and private schools across the Middle East. This includes leading the planning and development of IT within a number of new schools opening in the UAE. As a trained teacher with over 15 years working in education his experience includes UK state secondary schools, further education and higher education, as well as experience of various international schools teaching various curricula. This has led him to present at a number of educational conferences in the UK and Middle East.

2 thoughts on “Is online teaching as good as IRL?”

  1. Have you found the reason of improvement of those students ? Some dimensions must have opened up for them. Is it different school timing, or reduced school hours, different subject schedules, less communication for introverts, more activity-based, or any other reason ? How much is the online implementation different from previous offline ?
    Curious to know what helped the students.


    1. I think for different students it is different things, so I dont think there is “a” reason, but many reasons. For some it is that online they dont need to deal with the social interactions and distractions of the class. Some students may prefer the individual work more common online, to the groupwork which has become increasing common in classrooms. Some students like to be able to do the learning at a time and in a place of their preference rather than following a fixed timetable with learning in the classroom. I suspect flexibility in online learning is a big advantage however again this may help some students, but hinder others.

      Liked by 1 person

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