Travelling Welshman
Instagram @tompj

The Ultimate Guide to Teaching: Online vs In-person

In recent years, the pandemic has illustrated the importance of technology and the ability to continue with our day to day lives from home! One area which has learned this more than any other is online education.

In the age of lockdowns, more focus has been directed toward online learning. As a result, the industry has continued to grow leaps and bounds even as the world begins to return to normality.

Many teachers (such as I) have taken the bold step of moving out of the classroom altogether to focus solely on teaching online, but is this the right decision? Well, let’s find out!

Brief Disclaimer

Before we move on, it’s worth remembering that there are all manner of different classes, both online and in-person. You could be teaching adults or hyperactive children, in private classes or in a room filled with 20+ students. You might even work independently or as part of a school, the options are endless!

Each point may vary depending on what type of class you teach though generally speaking, the same rules apply to online or in-person classes.

Which is Most Accessible? – Online

No matter who you are, your socioeconomic status, your location in the world or even your ability, online classes are open to everyone! You don’t have a single limitation as you’ll be able to find any teacher or class that is right for you.

For in-person classes, this isn’t so easy! Classes may not be within easy reach or you might not be able to find one that works for you. You have much fewer options to choose from and might have to settle for less.

online in person class
A moment of revision

Which Provides a More Comfortable Setting? – Online

Forced to stand while teaching a group of energised children all day can be exhausting! Sometimes you wish you could just sit down and conduct the class from a reclined position. Well, you can do just that with online classes!

Teaching online allows you the freedom to work in any setting which makes you feel comfortable! It could be an office, your living room, or even while wearing baggy sweatpants and slippers, you can be as relaxed as you want to be!

The same is true of your student, who isn’t required to travel all the way to school and sit in hard-backed chairs in an overly air-conditioned classroom!

online in person class
Set up your workspace

When Do Students Focus More? – Online

The bane of any teacher’s existence is a group of unruly children who refuse to pay attention. Thankfully, an instant solution to this hair-ripping problem is having their parent sitting right next to them during the class! This also gives you a helping hand when it comes to the process of teaching the kids.

For adults, focusing isn’t generally an issue, as they don’t want to waste the money they paid for the classes! Even so, a recent Forbes article noted that online classes are typically more attention-grabbing with their multimedia formats, thus easier to keep your attention!

For more differences between teaching kids and adults, check out The Ultimate Guide to Teaching: Children vs Adults.

When Are Students Most Motivated? – In-Person

“Wait, didn’t you just say that students show more focus online?! WHAT‘S WITH THE DISHONESTY?!” Well, motivation is a little bit different. The double-edged sword of being in a comfortable setting is that you become a little too relaxed! Why learn when you could Netflix and chill?

In a classroom, you have no choice but to learn. There are fewer distractions and the only thing you can do is engage with the class. The same way people make themselves go to the gym rather than working out at home, you give yourself the incentive.

So you’re thinking of a career teaching kids?

But before you do that, here are all the pros and cons of working with the little monsters

Click here!

Which Has the Most Flexible Schedule? – Online

In-person classes usually revolve around the schedule of the student or the school itself, you don’t really have much freedom in choosing. If you’re a freelancer then you can pick your working hours, yet you’ll be limiting the number of your students you can take.

The same could be true with online classes if you work for a company that has set working hours. However, other companies allow you to choose your hours with total freedom. And as you’re working online, you’re not limited by the time of day as you can get students from any time zone around the world!

Where Do You Have the Most Resources? – Even

Though some may think you have limited resources online, you actually have a lot! You can share PowerPoints, assign worksheets and even play interactive games with your students. You’ll also be able to share songs and videos which you may not be able to do in-person.

That being said, you’ll be limited to digital materials. You won’t be able to share textbooks, unless you have a pdf (which is technically illegal to share!), and certainly won’t have any real-world materials to use. Both have their limitations, but you can easily find a way that works for you!

Time to learn numbers

Which Has Most Flexibility With Location? – Online

The beauty of online classes is that you’re able to teach from anywhere in the world! It could be in a quiet café in Tokyo, a hotel room in LA or even your own home on the shores of the UK, there really is no limit!

The same goes for your students! They don’t need to travel to school each day, they can take their class from anywhere at any time!

Classes in-person, as the name suggests, need to be done in-person. Your students always need to be in your area, and you’ll have to stick around for a long time! Not so much freedom with this option.

online in person class
Finding a quiet spot

Which Pays More? – In-person

This is the kicker for most teachers. Generally speaking, you make more money when teaching in-person, whether it’s in a school or freelancing private lessons. The extra cost goes into the preparation of materials, commuting costs and the belief that in-person classes require more effort (though it’s not strictly the case).

As online classes are generally seen as more convenient for both parties, you usually make less money. Some companies also take a MAJOR cut of your commission, which could be upwards of 50% for some! Thankfully, for many companies you can set your own rates, but still expect the company to take their cut.

Which Gives You More Personal Time? – Online

You finally finished a horrific 8-hour shift with some agonisingly loud children and now it’s time to go home, but unlucky for you, that’s still another hour bus ride away or an exhausting slog through a packed subway system. Meanwhile, your friend who works online has been comfortable at home the entire time!

Amongst your online classes, you have MUCH more free time to do whatever you want, and once you’re done for the day, you are DONE. No awful commutes or being held late after work.

So you want to be an ESL teacher, but don’t know where to start?

We’ve all been there! Let’s explore some tips for becoming an ESL teacher!

Click here!

Which Classes are Most Customizable? – Online

If you’re working for a school or any educational company, you’re usually given a lesson plan to follow or at least strongly guided through what you should be teaching. With online classes and even freelance teaching, you have much more freedom to teach whatever you find suitable!

It’s also much easier to modify online classes on the fly as you have all your materials right there at your fingertips! If you’ve prepared mountains of worksheets for your in-person classes, it’s a little harder to call an audible on the situation.

online in person class
Get out your textbooks

When Do You Have Fewer Interruptions? – In-Person

Put simply, you need to make sure you have a decent internet connection or online classes simply aren’t an option! Sometimes it could also be your student’s dodgy signal, but either way, your class will suffer! Glitchy footage and poor audio are just some of the common issues that can occur. Most companies won’t even allow you to teach online unless you have a stable connection!

Fortunately, when teaching in-person, an internet connection isn’t a requirement! So, you won’t have to deal with any interruptions when the wi-fi is down!

In the heat of the class

Which Has More Opportunity to Grow? – Online

Most people are looking for an opportunity to advance their careers and reach the next step. If not, then everyone at least wants to make more money! In the teaching industry, it’s not always so easy.

The opportunities in schools are next to zero, as payment is usually structured by the year or hour, not based on the number of students. However, with online classes, each new student is a bump up in pay.

Of course, this also has its own risks! If you find yourself with fewer students that month, then you’ll suffer financially. That being said, at least you have the opportunity to increase your pay, where you won’t in schools!

Many ex-pats have chosen to teach English, but why?

What are the pitfalls? Let’s look at some pros and cons.

Click here!

When Do You Have to Deal with Customers? – Even

If you’re in a class that’s being paid for, your students will also be your customers and need to be treated as such. With endless amounts of Karens throughout the world, some people will always be determined to make your life hell and tell you how you should do your job. Sadly, this is unavoidable no matter what type of classes you teach.

Adults will be able to scrutinise your teaching methods no matter which format you use and parents will always have a thing or two to say about the way you teach their kids. Sadly, this is something you just have to deal with.

Which Has the Best Feedback System? – Online

As hard as it is to believe, online learners may actually have more contact with their teachers than in the classroom. Students have already established an online relationship with their teacher, thus back and forth contact is common.

Issues are identified and addressed faster, materials are sent with a click of a button and messages can be sent in an instant. Generally, once you leave the classroom, you won’t talk with your teacher until the next class.

online in person class
Did you catch that?

Which Has a More Personal Connection? – In-person

In this ever-growing world of modernisation, something that suffers is having a personal connection between individuals, and the same can be said about online classes! Though of course, you’re able to have a close relationship with someone online, which many people have been doing for decades, it’s not quite the same as being face to face.

You lose a sense of warmth with your student; it feels more like a simple business transaction than a personal one. It just adds a slight level of separation.

Close personal attention

Thank you so much for reading The Ultimate Guide to Teaching: Online vs In-person! Now check out these other helpful articles!


  • Kartik Dodia

    Personal teaching is better than online teaching. In personal teaching, the child can learn how to live and how to speak with others.
    Sometimes child feels lonely in online teaching. So I personally believe that personal teaching is better than online teaching. By the way nice topic you have choosen and you have written very nice. Thanks for sharing, because this topic is very important to known in this time.

    • TravellingWelshman

      I can more definitely see the benefit, you tend to lose a lot of connection through the computer! Though it may be a bit more beneficial for you as a teacher, the students (especially children) might suffer a little. Thank you so much for your comments my friend!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.