Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Why my job is so hard to explain to people

As a teacher in a DL school I'm constantly trying to explain to people what I do. Because it's kind of complicated sometimes, if some random person asks what I do, I've been known to avoid the answer all together and say I teach Gr. 5/6.

DL (Distributed Learning) is a combination of distance ed, correspondence, online learning and homeschooling.

Yesterday I was in an online meeting with a group of educators from around BC discussing an online student management system. The meeting ran a little late and I'd scheduled a meeting using our online classroom (Elluminate) with some students I have in New Zealand. They waited patiently while I finished up my other meeting then we met and discussed some of their curriculum. The grade 6 girl showed me her Sc. project using her web cam. Then, before that meeting was finished a Gr. 7 student IM'd me on Google Chat with some questions about dividing decimals in math. We moved over to Elluminate and did a few examples on the white board.

Another time a few weeks ago I was meeting online with my guitar student in Invermere (many miles away) demonstrating 6/8 time signature when my son Skyped me from South Africa where he was on holiday.

This is a world of difference from a 'normal' teacher's day. It's cutting edge, challenging and complex but I enjoy it. The downside is, because of the lack of consistent contact we lose the students that don't have the independence and motivation. We're putting some strategies in place to try to minimize that next year and our most important tool may be Elluminate.

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