Being an online teacher in South Africa: Can I do it?

4 min read   •   October 26, 2023
Louise Liebenberg

The world has witnessed a rapid shift towards online education in recent years, and South Africa is no exception. As the digital revolution continues to transform traditional teaching methods, online educators are at the forefront of this transformative journey.

Making the shift

I started teaching online four years ago, at the age of 54! I can honestly say there are several advantages and disadvantages to teaching online. As a professional, I had to make a mind shift and an attitude change to adapt to the ever-changing online environment.

Maintaining student engagement

Building meaningful connections with learners in a virtual environment can be difficult. The absence of face-to-face interactions and the reliance on digital platforms can make it harder to establish rapport, read non-verbal cues, and maintain student engagement throughout the lessons. Teaching online is something that I needed to adapt to and perfect my teaching methods to actively engage my learners.

Online teaching at the Impaq Online School requires teachers to adapt to flexible schedules. Balancing synchronous and asynchronous instruction, preparing online materials, and scheduling time to provide personalised feedback can be time-consuming and demanding, but it all forms part of how I’ve finetuned my approach to teaching online.

Advantages of online teaching

Online teaching is reshaping education, breaking down geographical barriers, and opening new horizons for educators and students alike. Let’s look at some of the advantages of online teaching.

  • Flexibility: Teachers can work from anywhere, and learners can access classes from the comfort of their homes, eliminating the need for physical travel and enabling greater accessibility to education. For example, I travelled abroad during the June holidays to visit my daughters. I was still overseas when school started, but my class didn’t fall behind as I was teaching live from Budapest! Isn’t that amazing?
  • Resources: Online educators can access a wide range of digital tools and resources to enhance their teaching methods. Interactive platforms, multimedia resources, and collaborative applications offer opportunities for engaging and dynamic online lessons. Teachers only need to open their minds to the endless possibilities of the virtual classroom.
  • Personalised learning: Teaching online allows for personalised instruction tailored to each learner’s pace and learning style. With the ability to provide one-on-one attention and differentiated instruction, teachers can cater to the diverse needs of their learners more effectively.

On a more personal note, the most valuable advantage for me as an online teacher is that I do not have to commute outside my home. Another benefit is that I do not have to worry about my animals suffering from separation anxiety. Now, they can lounge on the little beds I have scattered around my office chair!

Disadvantages of online teaching

Just like any job or responsibility, online teaching also comes with some disadvantages:

  • Both teachers and learners may experience a sense of social isolation in online education. The absence of face-to-face interactions and limited socialisation opportunities can impact learners’ overall learning experience and emotional wellbeing.
  • Technical issues such as software malfunctions, connectivity disruptions, or device compatibility problems can interrupt online classes. Teachers must be able to troubleshoot these issues, or rely on technical support, which may not always be readily available. With this disadvantage, however, comes an added advantage. My 54-year-old brain had to swiftly adapt and learn new IT terminologies, but I have learned and empowered myself and can now help my learners with minor technical issues.
  • Unlike traditional classrooms, online teaching often lacks access to physical resources such as laboratories, libraries, and hands-on materials. This limitation can affect certain subjects that require practical demonstrations or experiments. But with the recent developments in AI, we have a world of resources at our fingertips.

Learning in the digital age

Despite the hurdles posed by connectivity issues and the need for adaptability, the flexibility, accessibility, and vast array of digital tools empower teachers to deliver quality education to learners across the country. By recognising the challenges and maximising the advantages, online educators in South Africa play a vital role in bridging the educational divide and shaping the future of learning in the digital age.

To answer the question posed in the title of this blog: An online teacher in South Africa. Can I do it?

Yes, I can!

Success as an online teacher requires dedication, adaptability, and a passion for teaching. Stay informed about the latest educational trends and technologies to enhance your teaching methods! You can do anything you set your mind to!