Research has shown that the number one reason students drop out of Online Courses is the lack of contact with the teacher and with fellow students.
Closely followed by reason number 2: no or very little opportunity for students to practice what they have learned and, equally important, to produce actual output under the watchful eye of the teacher.
Reason number one and two are linked: the student needs a classroom setting where questions can be asked (and hopefully answered satisfactorily), doubts raised, and above all, where there is ample opportunity for practice.
Any successful learning process unfolds in three stages:
INPUT – PRACTICE – OUTPUT
You take out any of the three, and you have a recipe for didactic failure followed by high drop-out rates. And yet the vast majority of Online Courses seem to part from the idea that stage one suffices. “If you stuff enough information through the funnel going into the head, then skills will come out the other end,” so the reasoning seems to be. Well, guess what. They don´t.
To avoid this deadly pitfall, the EA School Online uses a form of BLENDED LEARNING. Blended learning in the strict sense of the term is an approach to education that combines online educational materials and opportunities for interaction online with traditional “brick and mortar” classroom methods.
Instead of place-based classes however, the EA School Online has opted for the Zoom Virtual Classroom. Why? Because it has many advantages over the traditional brick and mortar classroom. Let me list the most important ones for you:
- Control over TIME, place and pace is no longer in the hands of the teacher. In a traditional classroom setting the teacher fixes the dates and times for class. Sometimes this happens based on student availability, but in the majority of cases it doesn´t.
- Control over PLACE: in a traditional classroom setting the teacher chooses the venue for classes to be held. For students this often involves extensive travel, high boarding costs, insurance, absence from work, loss of income, not to speak of the potential hazards of having to go from A to B. Place and time are related, of course: just think what you could achieve during a two weeks´ holiday in a mountain cabin. Or from a hotel room when on a business trip. As long as you have a decent Internet connection, you´re good to go. Far more important than lack of control over time and place however, is lack of control over the pace of study.
- Control over PACE: this is where we appreciate the true educational benefits of the form of Blended Learning the EA School Online offers. Classes are level-pitched and offered biweekly, alternating morning, afternoon and evening slots. But that´s not all. They are all-year-round. And when the year is over, a new cycle starts in the following year.
This way you, the student, have complete control over your study pace. You can take three months to finish a module or three years. The need for this does not come from some fancy theory but from real life: students have had to abandon their traditional classes because of work, because they moved to another part of the country, because they fell ill etc. Although unforeseen circumstances may still happen when enrolled in an EA School Online course, the good news is that:
- you don´t lose your course (with often no right to a refund)
- you don´t lose contact with your group of fellow-students
- you simply pick up again where you left off when you are ready.
All you need is a free Zoom account, a good Internet connection and a webcam.
You being able to SET YOUR OWN PACE OF STUDY is key in the acquiring of knowledge and skills. Why?
Because not everyone finds the same things difficult or easy to master. In the few months that we´ve been online now, it turns out students greatly benefit from class flexibility: they will skip three or four classes and then appear out of nowhere again. Why do they do this?
Good question. I asked myself the same thing and was surprised by how obvious the answer I got was: students attend class when they have doubts and feel the need to practice. If they don´t, they dedicate their valuable time to their Online studies.
The Online study materials consist of:
- 30-minute videos (a module will normally have around 25 video lessons, making for an average of 12,5 hours of video instruction)
- A comprehension test for each lesson (each test comes with extensive explanations, the total of which make up for over one hundred pages of EA text)
- Assignments (which can be brought to class and are then gone through)
Here comes reason number 4. Brace yourself.
- Control over DISPOSITION. This is the big one that tends to get overlooked. With all-year-round Zoom classes allowing for maximum flexibility, students typically do not attend class unless they are IN OPTIMUM STUDY MODE.
Just think of the difference with a traditional class. In a traditional class I (the teacher) tell you when and where to study. That may not always be such a good moment or even place for you. Me telling you when you are ready to study, from an educational point of view is highly counterproductive.
All-year-round Zoom classes mean you ´go´ to class when you feel like it, which typically is when you are in optimum study mode. The same goes for your Internet studies, by the way. When you are tired after a hard day´s work, you will probably not want to sit down at your computer. But on your day off or at the weekend, with the house to yourself, you probably will. Just think what this means in terms of MOTIVATION.
In all educational achievement models, motivation is top of the list. Without it, failure is almost guaranteed. Now for some practical advantages:
- No longer will you be staring at a chart from several meter´s distance, barely able to make out the planets and signs. In your Zoom Virtual Classroom the chart is on your screen and it is full screen. And in high definition.
- You will be able to ask the teacher questions via your microphone but also via the chat box. This means the teacher sees your question appear on his screen and can prepare his answer whilst he is in the middle of explaining something. He can and will try to incorporate it into what he is explaining. This leads to a much more streamlined class and fewer distractions for students.
- The Zoom Virtual Classroom allows for students to work in so-called break-out groups. In these, students work together in small groups without other groups (or even the teacher!) being able to see or hear them. When assignments have been completed the teacher can then join these smaller groups together again and have whole-class feedback and discussion.
- With travel time out of the equation and optimum study motivation guaranteed, concentration levels tend to be considerably higher in the Zoom Virtual Classroom than in the traditional one. When the lesson is over, you are home.
- The visual and auditory clarity and immediacy of the Zoom Virtual Classroom make that almost no information is lost.
- The Zoom Virtual Classroom is equipped with a whiteboard that can be used by both teacher and students.
- Both teacher and student can share their screen (showing charts or other graphics) with the group.