The Differences Between Teaching Live and Teaching Online

Oct 9, 2018 | Teaching Tips

Teaching, according to Britannica is “the profession of those who give instruction especially in an elementary or a secondary school or in a university”.  Teaching is a significant job that helps create an impact on the lives of others and its history can be traced to Confucius (561 B.C.) – the first private teacher in history.  In term of numbers, teaching is regarded as the world’s largest profession and according to statistics from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 68.8 million teachers will be needed over the next 14 years in order to provide every child with basic primary and secondary education.

Live teaching in classroom

Source: Unsplash

Over the years, teaching has evolved from being done in a typical classroom or auditorium setting based on a strict schedule to the modern day use of technology for communicating ideas, getting access to materials and planning lessons. Indeed, the way we learn has transformed and, in this article, I’ll share the differences between teaching live and teaching online.

Student Enrollment

Student enrollment is higher during online teaching and this is simply due to the fact that access to internet irrespective of location is all that is needed. The anonymity of students of online learning is also an advantage because most learners who are shy or disabled are brave enough to participate in the virtual classroom. The teacher is also able to reach a higher number of people which otherwise would have required a larger auditorium and teaching assistants to manage the crowd.  Professor Daphne Koller – the founder of Coursera in her TED talk gave an example using the Machine Learning class (a big class) which typically has about 400 students enrolled every time it’s offered but when it was offered to the public online, 100,000 learners enrolled.


Teaching live requires the teacher to only explain the materials in a classroom environment and when needed, divide the students into groups in order to make the activities run smoothly. In an online classroom, the teacher has to rely on virtual classroom and eLearning conferencing tools to run the activities smoothly and as such he/she incurs the additional responsibility of providing technical help when problems arise during a course.


Getting feedback from the students is also relatively easier in a traditional classroom as this can be evaluated visually (based on the look on students’ faces) as opposed to the use of questionnaires, online polls and breaking lessons into chunks to check that students are engaged during the course.

Teaching online on Preply

Source: My Life! Teaching in a Korean University

Student Engagement

Both modes of learning require discipline and motivation from the student, however more is required during online learning and the teacher has to devise creative ways to keep the students glued to the end. Online teachers have to pay more attention to personal interaction (via emails and chats) with their students, get them talking with the rest of the class, provide ongoing encouragement and other incentives to keep them committed.

Preparation of Syllabus

As opposed to traditional teaching where the syllabus can be prepared as the term/semester progresses, for online teaching the entire syllabus has to be prepared and ready before the learners begin the course. This is simply because learners determine the pace of learning when taking online courses and having the entire syllabus ready before starting the course will help them plan better.


Teachers have the opportunity to earn more when they explore online teaching opportunities. This is simply because a wider audience can be reached irrespective of their location. You can sign up a part-time tutor via platforms like Preply and increase income from the convenience of your laptop without having to be physically present in a traditional classroom.

In summary, despite the differences between teaching live and online teaching, both methods can be used to attain significant results. Although online learning requires a lot of independence and discipline, it engages a diverse group of learners because of the convenience and flexibility it offers and attracts non-traditional learners such as parents, working students, military personnel etc. It’s also worthy to note that in the fast-changing globalized world we currently live in, more people are embracing online education as a way to improve skills, learn a language etc. So, what about you? what do you think about both methods? Do let us know in the comment section.

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