Although current options are limited, there are actually many advantages to taking lessons online. I know students that have resisted transitioning to online lessons, I am also certain that many who have already made the switch will never return to in-person lessons. Unlike teaching special education to kindergartners, as my poor wife had to find out the hardest way possible, it turns out that chess instruction is easily transferable to a virtual platform. I was also a bit skeptical at first, but I soon realized that this change has been for the better!
So what are the advantages of online instruction? Here are five:
1. Material can be presented and reviewed in a much faster and streamlined way. No longer do we need to spend time to set up new position after new position. Now it takes just a single click, making limited lesson time much more efficient.
2. No more wasting time attempting to read handwriting on a scoresheet while reviewing a game or getting stuck because of a missed move. If a student plays a game online, the entire score of the game is saved so it is possible to review the whole game from start to finish instead of just fragments.
3. All moves can be instantly checked by a computer engine, allowing the instructor and student to focus on the underlying mistakes and necessary improvements.
4. The ability to annotate the board by physically highlighting squares and drawing arrows to illustrate weaknesses and piece paths is an incredibly useful tool.
5. Finally, chess software has a plethora of creative resources for online learning that can be used to make online lessons with a coach even more fun and engaging. Opening databases, puzzle challenges, guess the move exercises, drills and articles are just a few of the resources that I have been able to use to enrich my students' learning experience. Even a hour and a half lesson will fly by faster than you might expect.
In order to effectively teach my students online I use a combination of Zoom, Chessbase, and Chess.com. Over the last few months I have found that our lessons have been far more productive online than they ever were in-person. That is why most of my coaching services going forward will be conducted online. However, for those that crave the in-person interaction that online chess can never replace, my annual chess retreats will be a welcome reprieve from the life online.
Please share your thoughts about online chess instruction by leaving a question or comment. What do you prefer? What are some other pros/cons of online learning?