So – you’d like to teach online?

I love teaching online – I’m lucky to work with a good online school as well (good online school is a school that provides you with training, shares teaching materials with you and has supervisors ready to help), and I’ve been asked by some teachers how I actually got into online teaching and if it’s like teaching via Skype. And since I guess it’s slightly more complicated than “tutoring via Skype”, I’ve decided to reflect on my journey so far – I know I have much more to learn, but things I’ve covered so far make me quite prepared to online teaching.

Before I went full online 🙂 I had become really interested in Blended Learning. To tell you the truth, I’m still trying to put some of the BL ideas in my standard classroom, but fortunately my school implemented some aspects of Flex model into the curriculum making me really happy 🙂 I still think that trying BL methods before you go full online is a great idea, because BL helps you to reflect on the student/teacher roles that are different to what we experience in a traditional classroom. Once we understand how important mastery-based and student ownership ideas are, we must realise that online environment is far more complex that “teaching via Skype”. And it’s simply vital for us to understand it, because we have to explain the new approach to our students. And it may be difficult for them to understand that I’m not their “tutor” anymore, I’m more like a companion on their way to understanding English.

You can read about Blended Learning in the British Council publication but there are plenty of other, free courses. I can recommend several I’ve joined:

Blended Learning: Personalising Education for Students by New Teacher Center, Silicon School Funds and Clayton Christensen Institute

I took the course a while ago and wrote about my experiences and provided an experimental lesson plan using Station-Rotation model; the ideas of HQBL are explained really well – I guess it’s the best course to understand what BL actually is and how to approach it, however, it’s focused on the American school environment and I found some parts somewhat irrelevant (like planning a budget).

Blended Learning Essentials by University of Leeds

I’m participating in this course at the moment and I must say I’ve found a lot of interesting ideas and sources, but the course is focused on vocational teaching and training, so you’d have to adjust some ideas to TEFL approach.

Understanding Language by University of Southampton

It isn’t a course focused mainly on online teaching, but I found some of the ideas introduced there quite helpful.

Once I got familiar with some BL approaches, I tried to introduce them in my classroom, by either preparing whole lessons using BL models or just by taking some key elements from BL. Then I simply applied for a teaching job in an online school, got accepted (and yes, my interview did include questions from BL area!) and – here I am, fully online and loving it 🙂

This year I’ve been working in a traditional classroom, with a BL model and online only classes (both with school-designed curriculum and my own FCE-oriented one), and I must say it has helped me a lot to compare, to switch between different models, to use different teaching/learning materials and to open my mind to the online world and its teaching possibilities…

Which are endless 🙂

 

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