At Smyth Academy we have been teaching online classe for more than five years now. In Spain it has been a handful to convince people to “go online”.
The COVID confinement changed all that. I forced a compulsory online teaching trial on all students. And there’s no stopping it now: education is going digital.
This produces many questions, and today we want to answer one of the ones which arises the most: are online classes cheaper than face to face ones?
Other academies, during our biweekly meetings, have said it is a common question from their clients too.
Today we are going to explain why, in our opinion, online classes should have the SAME price as face to face ones.
Reasons why online classes should not be cheaper.
- The teacher spends the same time in both. The most important factor when calculating the cost of a class is time. This does not change in the online format. The teacher dedicates the same time to the class.
The cost for the academy, and the client, is the same.
- The quality of the class, the preparation and the work afterwards is the same in both cases.
The teacher does not reduce the quality of the class, he dedicates the same time to prepar his material, and will dedicate the same time to correct the work done.
The other two main factors when calculating the cost of classes are the level (in languages A1-C2) and the specialisation (business, technical etc). These do not change in an online format.
- The teacher doesn’t commute, nor does the student.
One of the reasons client provide when they ask this question is that the teacher does not have to travel to where the classes are. Let us look at the two main type of classes:
a) Where the teacher travels to the client’s office or house. In this case, traveling costs are always (or should be) added to the cost of the hour of the teacher. So yes, it is true we should not include those costs, but the cost of the hour is the same.
b) Where the student goes to the academy. In this case it is as convinient for the teacher as it is for the student. They both save the travelling times. It is one of the main advantages of this type of teaching for students: they can have a class wherever they are, and keep on doing what they were doing after it has finished. With no lost time. So again this is no reason to reduce the price of the class.
I’ve heard some clients think it is cheaper for a teacher or academy to teach online. This not so…I would even say it is more expensive.
Let us leave aside the fact about having a physical academy or not. For now it is not clear if we can go without our premises. People still want face to face classes, a place to go and ask for information, some legal requirements require a physical premise. It is still too soon, in my opinion, to get rid of our academies.
I will summarise some of the costs we’ve had due to online teaching:
– A server for our video conferencing tool. Others have had to pay memberships from video conferencing providers.
– New cameras with better quality (laptops have horrible cameras).
– More laptops for each classroom or for teachers.
– Two online LMS (creation and desing).
– Microphones and headphones.
– Digital tablets (for writing online)
– IT support hours for these websites and for connectivity problems from clients and teachers.
– Hours to learn and teach our staff both how to teach online and the best resources to do so.
As you see…the expenses are high.
So no, for all the previous reasons, we do not charge less for online classes.
However, there is an advantage, in this format, for the client’s pocket. Before, it was not worth it, for us, to provide classes for less than one hour. Now, we can do so, and have an hour classes do serve a purpose for some students. They allow more classes per week, or less classes per month. They are a cheaper and more agile format than one hour classes.
But our online classes cost the same per hour.