Traditionally, when we study with a teacher, we meet with them privately or in a group, pay them for their time and leave. This business model essentially trades time for money. The student pays $x for an hour of the teacher’s time. If they want more, they pay more. This is a wasteful use of our time.
All artistic practices have core fundamentals that students need to learn. Repeating this to every student individually is also redundant and wasteful.
These two aspects of traditional teaching are redundant, and they are also limiting your ability to serve a larger audience.
Teaching online allows you to deliver your most refined lessons, your most focused advice, to a global audience. Students can then replay or re-visit your teaching for as long as it takes to sink in. This is a powerful tool. It means that once you have crystalized and structured your teaching, you can move on to further expand your materials while receiving ongoing income from the work you have already done. This is leverage.
The concept of leverage was a revelation to me, and it made me look at how I value my time in a whole new light. Firstly, it made me realize what I could do with the one and a half hours it takes me to travel to a student, teach them, and come home. Instead of trading my time for money, I could create a lesson that serves hundreds of people in that same time!
To be clear, I am not saying that teaching online can replace the one to one interaction of a student and teacher, but there are some elements that come up so often that it makes complete sense to deliver that information in a leveraged format rather than repeating yourself ad infinitum. Furthermore, I believe there are advantages that online teaching has that in person instruction does not. The ability to repeat and review information, the unlimited access (location and time), and the highly structured nature of the material. Leveraged content requires a certain amount of thought and planning that results in structure, and on top of that, students cannot change this structure through disruption or questioning.
If you want a clear example of leveraging that you have used in your own education, simply think of a text book. It is structured, designed, and duplicated for hundreds and thousands of students to use. The text book has been a pillar of education for over a century and now, with the added power of the internet, we can supercharge this experience with multimedia, community interaction, feedback, and unlimited updates.
I don’t know about you, but this makes me excited to teach.
So What Can We Leverage?
I would put to you that anything that you can teach in front of a class, or privately without touching the person (adjustment and guidance in dance for example), you can leverage.
Lectures, lessons, and tutorials can be delivered through audio, video and text.
Quizzes, exams, and exercises can be delivered through an LMS (learning management system)
Articles, texts, and general information can be simply written online or in PDF format for printing.
What About Interaction?
Interaction through questions and answers is integral and useful to teaching.
Again I would posit that any situation where Skype would suffice, could be leveraged through pre-recorded video. If a live session really is required, you can use group calling software like ZOOM to work with 50+ students instead of just one.
To take that concept further you could conduct a webinar and interact with thousands of people.
And, once you have established a base community through your teaching, an online forum or private Facebook group can serve to leverage your written answers. In these cases multiple people will benefit from your answering an individual’s question.
Finally, a slow but powerful form of interaction is to create your content, observe responses from your students and adapt that content over time to incorporate questions that commonly arise. If you are already an experienced teacher then you will most likely be incorporating common questions into your teachings. If you are new, then you have all the more reason to be attentive and adaptive to your students’ needs and wants.
Where Do I Start?
The simplest way to start leveraging your material is to notice what material comes up repeatedly in your teaching. How to hold the guitar? How to prep a canvas? How to do a physical warmup? All of these are examples of material that can be easily leveraged. In my opinion, almost all forms of teaching can be leveraged and it is a creative process in itself to devise the most effective way to deliver your message.
The next time you teach, or even if you are practicing your craft alone, write down concepts that come up and see if you can crystalize your message into a succinct piece of content. If it is complicated, break it down, if it is simple… keep it simple.
Once it is ready, you can try the material out on a student or even a novice. Their feedback about clarity and comprehension will help you further refine the material. Start with this process of mindful observation. From there, you will know where to put your leveraged efforts for teaching online.