As K-12 schools scramble to pick up online learning, some students are getting lost in the shuffle. Crowded classrooms are shifting online, and it could unfortunately be souring the potential for a positive online learning environment.
This change has increased the average student-teacher ratio, and it may be influencing online learning more than you realize. In this article, we dig into how class size affects online learning outcomes and how it can impact your student’s future.
Crowded Classes Are Moving to Online Learning
There are some alarming trends creeping into online learning. Since the 2008 economic crisis, class sizes have been on the rise in the U.S. These trends have gotten out of control, with public schools across the nation overcrowded. The numbers are especially high in California—the state has the second highest teacher-student ratio in the country.
Now, with schools racing to offer online learning, already packed classrooms are moving to an online learning climate in which small classes are a must. Here are five ways student-teacher ratios affect online learning, and what it could mean for your student:
1. Student Engagement
Online learning has the potential to drive student engagement sky-high.
However, to be effective, online learning needs to grab and keep student attention. Unfortunately, that is difficult to do if a teacher is trying to manage a classroom of 30 different students at once. Smaller online classrooms give instructors a chance to interact with students more directly, with fewer distractions and less chaos.
2. One-on-One Direction
Whether it’s in an online or in-person setting, students benefit from one-on-one direction. The more teachers are able to check in on a personal level, the easier it is to determine learning needs and preferred learning styles. Small online classrooms allow teachers to create connections and lead more effectively.
What’s more, small classrooms can be even more effective when they’re paired with advanced targeted programs, such as self-paced learning. Self-paced learning programs use technology to adjust to a learner’s specific needs. Students can spend more time on difficult subjects and accelerate faster when they master a subject.
3. Personalized Learning
Students have unique learning needs and goals. That is why personalized learning is so important for a student’s future. Smaller teacher-student ratios make it easier for teachers and counselors to pinpoint the goals of each student and keep them on track to reach them.
Unfortunately, in overcrowded online settings, it is easy for education to become watered down, generic, and aimed at the goals of the majority rather than the individual. Conversely, small classes make room for frequent check-ins, targeted direct instruction, and learning outcomes that line up with the student’s goals.
4. Teacher Workloads
Large classrooms don’t just stunt student growth—they also put extra pressure on instructors. In fact, large classrooms have become such a burden on teachers that many are picketing and striking to decrease class sizes.
Smaller classrooms give instructors more flexibility to do what they do best: teach and lead. Rather than being stretched across a broad classroom, teachers in small classrooms can build meaningful connections, focus on more targeted learning, and reduce their overall stress.
5. Instruction Quality
It’s no secret that crowded classrooms lead to high teacher turnover. In fact, one study conducted by the Learning Policy Institute found 10 percent of teachers say class size was a reason they moved to a new school or even gave up teaching altogether.
Teachers are moving out of crowded classrooms and choosing a setting in which they can shine. As a result, many qualified teachers are migrating to more intimate online learning classrooms.
Learn More About Online Learning
If you want your student to realize the full benefits of online learning, it takes small classes and personalized instruction. Still, few parents want their child to dive into online learning without testing the waters first.
Want to see what your child can expect when learning online? Read our free guide, What to Expect From Online School with Method Schools, for an inside look at learning online.