Earl Grey and Pajamas: A Teacher’s Take on Online Learning

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This week teacher Josie Haley takes over as guest blogger and shares with us her take on online learning; the unique advantages it offers to public educators, the learning process as a teacher and a few tips in how to make the most of this learning experience.

I’ve been asked to share my experience about online learning and I think the obvious place to start is with convenience. I am a teacher in the Seattle area and mother of four busy children.  My husband is self-employed so he enjoys a very flexible schedule, therefore we do a lot of traveling on weekends and school breaks. Unlike your traditional college or university classroom, online learning allows you to work anywhere you can find internet access (although finding internet access can be seen as a challenge depending on where you are in the world). I have completed quizzes and tests sitting by the pool in Chelan, eating a pizza in Naples, and enjoying a bowl of chili in the Mt. Baker ski lodge. Of course, firing up the laptop at home, in my pajamas with a cup of Earl Grey is my favorite.  

I’d be hard-pressed to name a teacher that isn’t too overwhelmed with their day job, let alone their personal lives, to gladly find the time to enroll in an actual campus class, one that fits into their hectic schedule, not to mention the commute, parking hassle and exorbitant costs. For most of us traditional classes just don’t work any longer.

One of the most beneficial aspects of online learning is the interaction with the professor and other class participants.  I had to re-adjust my thinking when it came to online learning in that I had thought it would be very isolated as you are not in a physical classroom but a virtual one. At any given time you can be in the virtual classroom with any number of students.  My experience with the online classes was such that I could literally read about a new approach, implement it in my classroom immediately (that day, the next day or next week depending on where I was) and I could relate my experiences and receive feedback, suggestions, questions or answers literally that day, within the hour, if not in an instant. The flip side is I could take away everyone else’s experiences as well. The professors always seem to be online and willing to help or congratulate the students. I loved that accessibility! In all my years of academia, I can’t remember a professor giving me the time of day outside of his or her office hours. Online learning truly is a rewarding venue for learning.

If you were to ask me for an online learning tip the most important thing I’d pass on is to print out the materials—all of them! I learned this the hard way.

Who knew Italy had so many Saint’s holidays?

Literally, there is nothing open. I mean nothing. Which means internet cafés are closed, on way too many days to count.

If you print out the materials, including the agenda for quizzes and tests, you can be ready to go and plan accordingly. I’d even print out the quizzes ahead of time, fill them in as I read the material then be ready for the tests as soon as I could connect. One of the classes I took online was interactive with the Smart Board. It was fantastic in that I could complete the quizzes as I was learning the lessons, and then take the lessons into the classroom the very next day!

Online learning may not be for everyone but it sure is the way to go if you like convenience, flexibility and immediate implementation. There is an abundance of classes to choose from, a schedule to fit any lifestyle and really no downside.

Josie Haley is an elementary Spanish and PE teacher in a private, independent school after 15 years in the public schools, teaching K-12. Prior to that she taught English in Mexico for five years. She has used online learning for the last five years.

Posted on: March 3rd, 2016 at 11:12:56

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