05 March 2010

Online teaching (and face-to-face)

The last two years I've taught a class online, but this year because I was dropping back from 0.5 to 0.4 to get more writing done, I decided to forego my online class. My other two face-to-face classes are two I've been teaching for a while, and still feel passionate about. I've enjoyed teaching online, but have found it seriously impinged on my desire to keep my blog going. I've also joined Facebook, but haven't really got in the swing of it yet, perhaps because my kids are always on, and we have to share the computer with internet access and so I never seem to get on.

Anyway, back to the point of this post: so, there I was dropping back my time fraction, but then found out that my contract was set at 0.5 until December, so decided to run with it. Only I decided to take on another face-to-face class, a repeat of one I'm already teaching, which would free up my home time to write, rather than to teach. But you know what? I'm missing the online class. It was fun. (Which is not to say the face-to-face classes aren't, because they are.) I suppose what I'm really missing is the Discussion Board, where I got to read what my fellow writers thought about all sorts of things writerly. We had some really in-depth discussions on the Discussion Board.

On the other hand, I've had some great discussions in my novel class this year already. But it's different reading it online. More people contribute. (Though I can't complain about that with this year's class: they're a talkative bunch, with lots of interesting stuff to share.) Online, people have time to think about what they want to say, to formulate a response. They often get to a deeper level of engagement, just because they can take the time to think about it. In class, they're on-the-spot more, which doesn't mean they can't come up with some terrific ideas, because they can.

Sometimes, when we teachers get together and think about how much unpaid work we do (and believe me, with all the workshopping and marking of assignments in teaching writing, there's a lot), and think about all the admin stuff that's driving us crazy, we forget just how lucky we are. Some of the class discussions, both online and in class, are energising. I come out thinking, wow, that was a great class, and I remember how I loved being a student.

The other great thing is that every year is different: every class is different. Each year has new challenges and new rewards, and these aren't always easily apparent, especially not at the beginning of the year. But they make the job interesting -- there's never a feeling of same-old, same-old, because it's never the same.

1 comment:

Sherryl said...

Very tactful post. I'll leave it at that.