“Impersonal, disconnected, and unfulfilling.” That is how I would have answered if you asked me 10 years ago what I thought of online teaching. As a teacher, I feed off the energy of the crowd and thrive on exciting and entertaining my students to the point of drawing even the most resistant into attending class. When the economy and my growing family necessitated that I teach online as well as in the classroom, I couldn’t have been more surprised by the satisfaction and joy that could come from a distance-learning program.
It is not easy. First there are the students themselves. They are generally older, multicultural, and have work and family commitments. Many are in the military or have a spouse in it. Many are single mothers. Some see this chance for an education as their only chance in life, their last option.
To effectively work in the distance-learning realm, your students need to feel close to their classmates and professors, despite the miles between us. Establishing a bond, a common ground, a supportive arena for thought and expression may mean the difference between a successful, compassionate classroom and a lost, detached one.