Melanie
Online vs in-person lessons
I've only recently started taking group lessons online (partly due to the Corona virus) and so far I haven't been enjoying the experience very much: the groups are relatively small with nine students in one group and six in the other.

Unfortunately, there are always issues with at least one person's internet connection; some people speak very loudly or very quietly and of the video conference websites I've used so far, only one allowed me to adjust every person's volume individually; I use a headset, so it's painful when someone shouts in my ear; some participants have problems using the software, which slows down progress and makes the lesson less efficient because everyone is busy trying to help one person find a specific function.

I was pretty disappointed by that experience, because I do think that online lessons can be very useful to find classes that aren't available in my hometown (e.g. advanced classes for exams) or to find a different teacher.

What made you try online classes and what was your experience? What did you like better (or less) about online lessons and would you say that any disadvantages you had were worth it? Have you ever changed a teacher due to technical issues? Do you use a headset? I'd also love to hear from teachers about how they deal with any difficulties when teaching online.
Jun 22, 2020 6:43 PM
Comments · 7
Yes, I find one-on-one online classes significantly easier than online group classes.
June 25, 2020
My experience with university classes on Zoom:

Positives:
You can record the class sessions, so if you miss a class or had bad internet connection one day, you could watch the recording of that session.
More time to get the work done (time is not lost in commute)

Negatives:
Bad internet connection, technical issues, feedback loops, etc.
Its easier for students to skip class or to not participate when the class is online. (I hate feeling forced to answer ALL the questions when there's only 5 people in my recitation.)
It's like talking into a void when you have a class full of people with microphones and videos off.
Harder to focus
June 26, 2020
I've now been through three different online group classes (not just lessons). One class was originally in-person before the virus outbreak, another was something more casual available through work, and the last purely online through some kind of EU integration fund.

The volume problem: It does exist to some degree. Unfortunately there are people who are loud talkers or shout into the microphone. You turn up the volume for some listening exercise recording that's too quiet, and of course somebody then decides to unmute their microphone and start talking over it, splitting your eardrums in the process.

I know there has to be some option to deal with it though. Apparently Windows 10 has something built-in called "Loudness Equalization" under <em>Sound Control Panel > Playback tab > [Your speaker] > Properties > Enhancements tab</em>. I'm not sure if that will help to be honest, since I only just recently read about it, but it seems promising. In any case, I know streamers generally use so-called compressors or limiters to try and keep a balanced audio volume, so it's not like this should be some great unsolvable technical problem. Or maybe there's some better headset?

Other issues:
<ul><li>When everybody else except the teacher turns their video camera off, so you feel like you're interacting with a class full of disembodied voices.</li><li>I don't have a printer at home, so it's less convenient to do certain learning exercises with some PDF files - although there is some software that lets you annotate or edit them.</li><li>Terrible audio quality - doesn't happen all the time, but it's still not ideal when it does.</li><li>The problem of "wait, where are we?". Sometimes teachers fly all over the place with lesson material and you're not sure which and what part of the five files they sent that day we're suddenly on now.</li></ul>

It ought to be better, but unfortunately the only advantage of online group lessons for me so far is that I don't have to travel anywhere to get to them.
June 25, 2020
Thanks for sharing your experience, Miriam. One of my classes (the one designed to be online) requires participants to mute their microphone; of course some people tend to forget, and I agree that it's very annoying when you can hear every breath or background noise. Thankfully, the teacher is good about reminding the responsible person, but that's probably impossible to do when you have more than 10 students in a class.

Do you find one-to-one online classes significantly easier than group sessions?

June 22, 2020
I'm a university teacher and due to Corona I'm teaching all my classes online now. I have around 10 to 30 people in my classes and I have also attended online conferences, webinars and pre-Corona Spanish group classes online. The most annoying thing is when people don't turn off their microphone when it's not their turn and you hear background noises or them talking to someone else. The online Spanish classes were ok, but I definitely prefer a classroom setting for group classes. In a class room setting you can work in pairs or small groups. In an online setting you don't get much individual speaking time. I use normal headphones. So far, I haven't changed a teacher yet because of technical issues.
June 22, 2020
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Melanie
Language Skills
English, French, German, Italian, Japanese
Learning Language
French, Italian, Japanese