Distinguishing yourself as an online teacher - part 4

Intro to Distinguishing yourself as an online teacher – Part 4. In this article I will explore finding a top system, using the full capabilities of it, and using CUPID to improve what you do.

Use a good system

To be honest, if you wish to truly distinguish yourself as a top online teacher, you really do need a dedicated system, one that is designed for teaching online and can do pretty much anything. Such a system is Vedamo, which is designed by teachers and can tackle any discipline. IM may be ok for one to one and if that works for you, then fine. You could become a top one to one teacher using the limited capability it offers.

However, a lot of instructors don’t like one to one because it is intense and tiring. Getting the best out of yourself with group work requires a system that allows you to easily do everything. Complicated equations? Check. Architectural quality drawings? Check. Automatic grading systems? Check. Ability to create tests and forums? Check. Ability to control many students? Check. None of these, or other useful features are available with IM. And I believe you cannot reach your full potential without a dedicated system to call upon.

Distinguishing yourself as an online teacher: Use a good system
Distinguishing yourself as an online teacher: Use a good system

So, find yourself a good software provider that wishes to provide the best possible environment for teaching and will upgrade to take account of new technology. The one that you feel most comfortable with is the one for you.

Use the full capabilities of the system

Once you have identified your best package, then to be the best you can be, exploit all the possibilities it has. Never stop asking the support staff if there are any new features or things you would like to do that they could make happen.

This brings me to on to a different area to discuss. Sometime, in the near future, people will think of doing things with teaching software that nobody has done before. It may be something surprisingly simple. Facebook, for example didn’t exist all that long ago, yet that basic idea made Mark Zuckerberg a billionaire. You could be that one. Instead of saying “Why didn’t I think of that?” perhaps this time you could come up with the simple idea that revolutionizes online education. Someone will, for sure. They will spot that the current software can’t do x and say “Why not?”.

If you try to always use the system to its fullest, you give yourself a better chance of seeing where its deficiencies lie, and it is in those deficiencies that the opportunities lie.

Distinguishing yourself as an online teacher: Use the full capabilities of the system
Distinguishing yourself as an online teacher: Use the full capabilities of the system

I have taught the people who designed the Vedamo system and they knew more than me about it, obviously. If I couldn’t remember how to do something, they could tell me. And I would suggest features that would be useful as did the other teachers who helped in the design of the product. They got teachers and students to help iron out the bugs and still do as software is never finished. It is a deceptively simple system that can tackle pretty much any teaching problem or discipline.
However, in universities and schools around the world, tech is the bugbear. Lots of teachers don’t want to use it and fortunes are spent on tech that is not utilized. I am on the tech committee in my university and can attest to this.

This does bring an opportunity to you, though. If you use it, make yourself good, you can steal a march on the rest.

Getting back to CUPID

In the first part of the series, I came up with the acronym CUPID which stands for Characteristics, Unique, Personality, Individual, and Distinct which are the features required to distinguish yourself as a great online teacher. Following the steps outlined in the series should help you to achieve all of these in practical ways. I do feel that it is an exciting new field and one that will throw up top online teachers who didn’t shine in the standard classroom. Everyone has a niche and yours could be online teaching.
So, even if you have tried it and didn’t really feel comfortable, I hope my words can get you to think again and push yourself to give it a go. It is new, it has a great future (all the research indicates so) and the top teachers are only starting to emerge. To give just one example of the growth in the market:

Based on federal data from more than 4,700 colleges and universities, more than 6.3 million students in the U.S. – most of whom were undergraduates – took at least one online course in fall 2016, a 5.6 percent increase from the previous year. This is the 14th consecutive year that Babson has reported growth in online enrollment.

Distinguishing yourself as an online teacher: Getting back to CUPID
Distinguishing yourself as an online teacher: Getting back to CUPID

“No matter how much we think that there might be something slowing it down, it hasn’t happened” says Jeff Seaman, co-director of the Babson Survey Research Group and a co-author of the study. Even in bad economic times, for example, he says enrollment has only gone up.

Getting in early, staying positive and learn, learn, learn all about it puts you in the position of getting there before the rest. The early uptakers in new technology are the ones who always do well.

Put effort into getting to know yourself, your students, the system, and hit them with all the CUPID’s arrows mentioned above. One step at a time, keep moving forward, stay positive, and bring your unique talent to the table.

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Gus Worth is a highly experienced writer and educator having worked in universities for nearly 20 years and being first published at the age of six. Currently in the English department of the American University in Bulgaria, he also writes extensively for the web and in print for many companies. He has a particular love of online teaching and enjoys helping teachers take their first steps in the exciting world of the future where you can connect with, and help students develop, all over the planet.
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