Reflections of my experiences in WiziQ in 2012
What does this means for teachers and learners everywhere?
TEN THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT ONLINE TEACHERS
1) Edupreneurs like to explore new frontiers of mind & technology
It’s hard to reflect on 2012 without mentioning my big lead into online teaching via the Edupunk in 2010. I was a new teacher online who was very keen to gain experience with WiZiQ technology and experiment with brain-based learning and edutainment experiments. Led by George Machlan, known as The Edupunk, a group of teachers and I worked together with the purpose of holding public open classes on language learning via creativity and fun. During that time I not only got used to the technology, but learnt to love the synergy of group classes across global cultures, and tapping into the creativity of students from all walks of life.
2) Online teachers create beautiful educational content
There was so much merit in making fun a main objective in teaching, and it’s an experience that took me beyond a stringent exam-related mindset. I experimented with music, story-telling, poetry, games and comics. I used various web tools and artistic design to create unique, brain-friendly presentations. They were collaborative projects in self-expression, with students leading and creating contexts for communication. It was action research on the cutting edge, combined with brain-training trips into the imagination.
3) Edutainment and academic training are not mutually exclusive
In 2012, I realized that many online students out there really need exam training. Certificates of proficiency in English open up so many doors to people that helping them to pass makes their dreams come true. With my 18 years experience in teaching specialized exam courses, it seemed obvious that I should start private exam courses on WiZiQ. Although I used some official exam materials, I also found the best online content I could use, particularly English Out There, by Jason West. I wrote a lot of my own text too and designed graphic novel style lessons to teach vocabulary, reading and grammar. My alternative materials were completely shaped to teach advanced exam concepts, as I’ve been working on tests for so many years now that I know how to reframe exam training into more rewarding and deeper learning experiences.
These courses were proof that edutainment and academic training should not be mutually exclusive. In fact, they need each other to light the Educational Fires so famously described by the Irish poet, William Butler Yeats.
4) Online teachers can manage large groups of students on learning management systems
I was introduced to moodle by Dr.Nellie Deutsch and continue to learn from her vast experience and many years working with WiZiQ. Serious and passionate teachers like their students to have access to the best on the web and to develop autonomous learning habits, so they work hard at creating simplified yet effective safe environments for their students to work from, apart from virtual classroom sessions, 24/7.
5) Online learning environments are social hives of influence.
When you get students from around the world together in one classroom, the social possibilities and idea of ‘making a difference’ in the world, seems not so far-fetched. Ideas are exchanged in a safe, respectable environment in the target language, and it is so inspiring that an atmosphere is truly felt across cyber space. Educationally speaking, mindful teachers can help students develop critical thinking skills, understand global culture, adjust perspectives across political and religious spheres, and, in general, make the world a more tolerant, open place to communicate in. Students, of course, also give their teachers a lot to think about and give them deeper insights into cultural mindsets.
6) Community-driven cultures are powerful and accessible with online learning.
If you think about how facebook works, and then imagine turning social networks into live sessions of communication via virtual classroom, you may begin to glimpse the magic inherent in logging in and staying connected. Instead of an unstructured network, we have planned, focused and inspiring learning networks..
Most of my students have been business people who need English qualifications or students wanting to emigrate or study abroad. Logging in was the only feasible way they could manage to achieve this goal. Many adults do not have the time or money to attend time-consuming expensive courses in offline schools.
7) Online teachers bring the best from the old world into the new
I spent many years teaching offline. I went freelance early in my career, so I was used to always seeking excellence in an independent way, as student success and word of mouth was the foundation of my business. This mindset helped me online too, and in the cyber world, word of mouth is just as important.
Here is one testimonial from a student in Athens who scored 8.5 in IELTS and will go on to do a Masters in England. Universities in England usually require just 7 in IELTS.
Having completed the IELTS exam course with Sylvia, I can only thank her for her effective teaching methods that resulted in an online lesson suited to each students’ needs. With the tips, e-books and exercises supplied during the course, I was able to sit the IELTS confidently and get the desirable 8.5 score. I would recommend this course to anyone, despite his/her level of English language knowledge.
Eri Kyrgia, also from Athens, recently sat the Michigan Proficiency exam after a course with me on WiZiQ.
“I did very well, mainly because of your help and the resources you provided. The most impressive thing was that there wasn’t even one unknown word in the vocabulary section.”
8) Cheap is not cheap
When platforms and teachers get together to find a financial model helpful to students in private online education, the goal is to make education accessible to as many people as possible without impinging on professional integrity. When I think of all the free classes I held, I fondly remember how much work I put into designing the lessons and content. The biggest reward in teaching lies in empowering others, so cutting corners would never be tempting to a teacher who is building up a reputation and focusing on success. WiZiQ has public classes and private to choose from. Private classes are cheaper if groups are large, but learning management systems either on WiZiQ or moodle ensure that individuals are taken care of 24/7.
9) Online teachers are at the cutting edge of education
Online teachers, by nature of their work, are always up to date on cutting edge developments in education that offline establishments cannot always keep up with. One such example is the upcoming EVO sessions http://evosessions.pbworks.com/w/page/61742103/Call_for_Participation2013.
EVO sessions are just the tip of the iceberg, as they are semi-official annual events. Unofficially, cyber teachers are creating waves of change across the blogosphere; doing research and innovating before government administrators have time to scratch their heads. Online teachers influence social media networks and understand global students needs.
10) Today’s online teachers are tomorrow’s publishers.
Action research online teachers, who use, adapt and create are developing skills you cannot find in a traditional classroom. More and more of us are creating courses and ebooks that are making education more innovative and more accessible to learners around the world. My pioneer in this is Jason West. This year I will publish some of my exam-related creative course books .
I hope that this has been informative and inspiring for 2013, whether you are a learner or teacher. Finally I’d like to add that WiZiQ is attracting more of my amazing colleagues and ESLebrities – watch out for the Fluency MC English workout in 2013.