What do I Prefer?
Zoom or Face-to-Face Training?
If you had asked me this question at the beginning of 2020, I would have said. Without a doubt face-to-face.
But being forced into the digital world to enable us to continue to run our classes and even progress our students throughout the Corona Virus Pandemic and Lock-Downs of 2020/2021. I’m leaning towards team ZOOM now.
So. The pros and cons.
First the Cons:
To start with you aren’t able to gauge the student as well as you can whilst on the mats. Do you get the sense of the student struggling or getting a little frustrated or even not in their normal positive frame of mind?
I Have found this much more difficult online. Looking at my students via a monitor, it’s been really hard to work out if they are “getting it” – The Solution – Asking more questions! “Do you understand” opening up the class and making all of the students feel that there is “No such thing as a silly question” Making the students feel at home and relaxed in front of the camera and able to unmute themselves and question the technique or skill.
The Pro to this situation is watching our students’ confidence grow. Their willingness to ask those questions that they possibility might not have at the beginning of this pandemic when they first came onto Zoom. Students have learned to express themselves more verbally than they seemed to before this pandemic. And as we all now know it’s better to communicate and chat about our feelings, troubles and thoughts rather than keeping them bottled up inside. So this “Con” (If you look at it from a different angle) has developed into a “PRO”
2. I have found students find it easier to become distracted. With everything else going on in the background whilst the lessons are running it is difficult to remain focused.
Again there is a “PRO” here. Students have learned to focus more, concentrate on the screen and what is going on in front of them. To try and ignore the distractions all around them. This is such a positive as in life we all need to remain focused at times. Keeping ourselves on track even when other situations are distracting you. Now obviously it could be better, But with practice comes improvement! I have seen a marked improvement in all of my students. Especially the younger ones. They are able to listen and learn the techniques and moves better than when they started working online. Then hopefully they will be able to continue to develop these new skills on returning to school and the workplace. This has to be a “PRO!”
3. Students and parents have had to work together. Parents and partners have needed to jump up and join in with students to aid in their techniques. Throwing a punch for the student to be able to block correctly or escape the grab. Forcing students to work with sometimes much larger opponents than they would have if they had been in the training class. Causing the throw or take-down to be less effective or less controlled.
Once again this is a positive. Students working with much larger opponents help them learn to put work a little harder on the technique. Students have learned that they need to use quality techniques and skills to enable them to work on such a larger opponent. Causing the realisation that these techniques could work against a larger attacker. At the end of the day, An attacker will more than likely be bigger or stronger than you. Unfortunately, that’s just the way it is. But learning with much larger opponents during training has developed more confidence in the student’s abilities. Yes, there are limits. A 5-year-old child isn’t going to be able to throw their parent over their shoulder. But with their parent’s help, they will develop a great technique to enable them to improve and develop their skills and strength. I have also found that parents have found new respect and understanding for how hard their children work during their training. To a level where a few parents have approached me in order to start their training journey as well, as they can see the huge benefits of training in the Martial Arts. This has to be another WIN for these online classes.
4. Children and Adults having to spend hours on top of hours in front of the screen. With schoolwork and now their hobbies.
And I do agree that this is a necessary evil that just could not be prevented during lock-down.
However, Being able to associate the screen with fun stuff as well as school or work “stuff” has to be a positive as well. There is no way I will ever admit that sitting in front of a screen any longer than is needed is good for you, but when there are no other options. Being able to offer an individual a break from the seriousness of school and work and just allow them to have a great time learning new and completely different skills such as techniques, skills and drills. Again this is giving them a break from the “New Normal” for just 45 minutes. Allowing a positive and more relaxed environment in front of the screen. Therefore reinforcing that technology can be used for positivity not just something that HAS TO HAPPEN. Surly another “PRO”? Don’t you think?
5. Not being able to training in a different environment. Not being able to leave one environment and go to another. This is fine when the weather is nice outside, but when it’s cold and raining. It’s not great. The ability to leave your home and spend some time in a different environment has been missed by us all over the past 12 months.
If I’m honest, it’s had to find a positive in this one. We have all missed being able to pop round to a friend’s home or leave our home to enjoy our hobby. If there is a positive to this, It’s that we should all now appreciate this a lot more now that the restrictions for Covid – 19 are slowly being lifted. We will hopefully NEVER AGAIN take our freedom to move around, visit loved ones and go to any events or clubs for granted. Appreciate, enjoy and take advantage of our freedom. Visit people, ask how they are doing. We all know how important this is to our mental health these days.
6. Not being able to work with friends, We have been missing our friends and family throughout the pandemic and lock-downs. But, at least we have been able to share a moment with them online. No, it’s not the same, I know. But imagine if we couldn’t have even done this. The positive from this is again appreciating being able to work with friends and loved ones as the Covid-19 rules relax. Then start to make the effort to go out and see everyone. I’m sure I’m not alone in putting visits off because I’m a little busy, to then realise it’s been 2 weeks, a month and sometimes even longer since I last saw them. I know I will now make the time. Ensure I see them at least once every month. I don’t ever want to lose that face-to-face contact with them ever again.
7. Not able to interpret the instructions as well. I know whilst I have been teaching online that at times things have become a little confusing for students. Even to grabbing the right hand instead of the left. Putting your left foot forward instead of the right. Little things that would be picked up easily face to face suddenly become more difficult to spot and correct. But again, even this has its positives. I know I have learned to be aware of these smaller details. Looking out for them and pointing them out fast now that I have gotten used to teaching online. So I really do think that I have become a better instructor because of the online work.
So, Although online classes have been challenging and difficult. They have also helped to develop new skills and experiences I didn’t even know I was missing.
I know without a doubt that Face to Face teaching is better. It’s easier to help, gauge and interact with students. But I can’t help but think that the Zoom and online live classes have helped me in so many ways as well.
With this in mind. Here at the Chi Wai Family Martial Arts, we have decided to keep the Zoom classes running. Even once we have returned back to “Normality” we are going to continue with Zoom.
Imagine this, You go away on holiday, but fancy keeping up with your training. Just tune in. You are not well but want to take in the lesson and the training visually, just tune in. You are running late and won’t have time to travel to your lesson before it starts, just tune in. There are loads of great reasons why keeping the convenience of the Zoom classes going. I even have students who are in jobs that take them around the country, and even out of the country, and they are still able to maintain their training and therefore the progression.
So we have found ourselves, instead of asking will we keep these Zoom classes going, but why didn’t we think of adding them to our everyday lessons years ago.
Finally to answer the original question on Zoom or Face to Face, Face to Face all the way, with a little Zoom thrown in for convenience.
Lee Kent, Chi Wai Family Martial Arts, Cheltenham, www.chiwai.co.uk.