I haven’t been around this blog much since the end of May. Partly this is because I have been blogging for my favorite online teaching site, www.WizIQ.com, where I started out as a student of online teaching/presentation skills in 2009 and ended up a premium teacher. I fell in love with the site not only because of the Virtual Classroom and its onboard teaching tools — there’s also a social media toolbox that includes a Courseware page for an interactive syllabus, a Coursefeed page with threaded discussions, and easy student contact tools; not to mention the best customer service group I’ve ever run across — but also because of the welcoming community of teachers from all over the world who populate its pages with free open access courses, affordable courses, friendly MOOCs on great topics, and more recently a series of truly terrific blogs.
My online teaching mentor on WizIQ, Dr. Nellie Deutsch — now a friend and colleague — recommended me for a part-time job blogging with WizIQ not too long ago. I couldn’t be more grateful. Among the blogs I’ve written for WizIQ, my two favorite ones are the one on time management and the one on the Babson Survey Research Group/Pearson/Sloan Consortium report, Changing Course, which covers the last ten years of online education adoption by universities and colleges.
My all-time favorite WizIQ blog is one I didn’t write, though. Written by Sylvia Guinan, an ESL teacher from Ireland living with her husband and children in Greece, the blog is called “Ten Things You Should Unlearn Before Starting to Teach Online.”
Saying this is my favorite blog on WizIQ is saying a lot because all of the blogs are really good, whether written by WizIQ staff, or by the dozen or so online teachers who round out our group of bloggers. Everybody is articulate, passionate about teaching, learning and online education. The staff at WizIQ who edit and help illustrate the blogs are also creative and a joy to work with. But Sylvia’s blog is my absolute favorite because it shows us what we have to shake off in order to become truly effective, productive online teachers.
The overall message of “Ten Things” is that to be an effective online teacher with sufficient skills to set up the kind of learning community that will most benefit our students, we need to embrace the creative chaos that personalized online learning requires. We can’t be afraid of mobile devices, a wild and wooly chat box, or letting the learners under our care take the lead, Guinan says. That tendency we all have to be wary of leaving our comfort zone needs to be unlearned, as well as our dependency on textbooks and other static forms of the printed word, not to mention our dependence on the bureacracy that can surround us in bricks-and-mortar schools. As online teachers, we need to let go of the beliefs and preconceptions that hold us back. We need to be willing to take that leap of faith that allows us to revel in the joys of “individual and collaborative success.”
There’s more in the blog, and with great click-throughs to other blogs and lists of tools and techniques for teaching online. I recommend it highly: Sylvia’s blog is full of insightful enthusiasm for a type of teaching that has so many benefits for all of us! Enjoy!