The world has changed dramatically since the Covid-19 pandemic surfaced in the beginning of 2020.  It seems that every aspect of life, the virus did not leave them untouched, be it routines, work and play.

As it seems, it has not also left education unscathed.  Teaching and learning have been brought from the physical classroom to the online platform. They became possible through the use of various tools such as zoom, google classroom etc. While many students have grown accustomed to online lessons and home-based learning, one question looms – is this the way of the future? And do students benefit equally or more from learning online as compared to learning in a physical classroom?

One thing that we observed since the first lockdown, is the increasing number of enquiries for online lessons. As expected, parents and students are more comfortable when the school teacher administers the home-based learning.

Challenges of Online Lessons

From the perspective of student learning, online lessons have its challenges.  First of all, not seeing what the student has on the other side of the screen makes it difficult for the teachers to make sure that the student’s surroundings or workspace are free from distractions.  Thus, we constantly pose questions to every student, and require each of them to respond.  We also made it mandatory to switch their cameras on during class, unless unable to do so due to specific personal or technical issues.  This is helpful because luckily, more than two decades of teaching experience enables us to see their faces to quickly determine if our students are having problems following the lessons or are distracted.

Another issue that a lot of teachers are facing is the use of models to demonstrate certain concepts such as, molecular shapes and isomerism.  While this can be easily done during face to face classes where students are able to conduct actual experiments with the physical models, this is a challenge in an online set-up. At Focus Chemistry, we came up with a solution to this problem by using multiple cameras to show molecular geometries. Therefore, our students can still experience and learn about such complex topics from the comfort of their homes.

The numerous years of experience conducting online lessons for overseas students doing the International Baccalaureate examinations proved that our online lessons are highly effective. It is evident in our students’ stellar performances after attending IB Chemistry tuition with us. Thus, when the lockdown started in mid 2020, there were sufficient preparations to bring all lessons online. It happened without adversely affecting student learning.

Are online lessons here to stay? Maybe for a longer period of time than expected.  However, one thing is for sure, and that is more students are now open and thriving in this new mode of learning. When executed correctly, it will not compromise student learning.