Learn Out Live! » Online Teaching http://learnoutlive.com    wherever you are . . . Tue, 22 Jul 2014 08:03:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Calling All Independent Teachers (Vol.2): A Clean and Well-Lighted Community Space http://learnoutlive.com/forum-independent-teachers/ http://learnoutlive.com/forum-independent-teachers/#comments Thu, 29 May 2014 14:23:07 +0000 http://learnoutlive.com/?p=15117 About two years ago I wrote a post with the title “A Call to All Independent Teachers“. It was to announce the free online teachers and tutors directory here on LearnOutLive. The idea behind this directory was to create a...

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About the author: André Klein was born in Germany, has grown up and lived in many different places including Thailand, Sweden and Israel. He has produced two music albums, performed and organized literary readings, curated an experimental television program and is the author of various short stories and non-fiction works.


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About two years ago I wrote a post with the title “A Call to All Independent Teachers“. It was to announce the free online teachers and tutors directory here on LearnOutLive.

The idea behind this directory was to create a space where independent education professionals can list their website in order to attract students and gain the attention of other teachers.

Many teachers have joined the directory since then. Almost every day new teachers are signing up, and I continue to be amazed by how many people have made teaching online their part-time job or full-time profession.

Connecting Independent Online Teachers

Having been a non-institutional teacher myself for almost a decade (and later an online language teacher), I know how rewarding it can be to work directly with people and help students to achieve their goals, but also I’ve experienced the many challenges of running an independent online teaching business.

If there’s one thing that has helped me most to succeed in my time as an online language teacher, then it’s probably networking; making contacts with other teachers, learning about their experiences and challenges, exchanging helpful morsels of advice, or just the odd bit of commiseration here and there.

Some of these teachers have become good friends, and although we’ve never met physically, there’s a strong sense that we’ve known each other for years.

This community spirit has not just been “platonic”, either, but has led to many real-world consequences, most notably perhaps the book we co-authored together in 2013, involving 10 people from 5 different continents!

An Avalanche Of Fleeting Newsfeeds

Most of these connections between us have been through email, instant messages and comments throughout the Social Media world. The great thing about using tools like Facebook and Twitter is the immediacy. If I have a question about something or need feedback about a project I’m working on, all I need to do is ask, and immediately my colleagues will be able to see my question and respond to it.

While this form of exchange allows us to get results very easily and instantly, these moments are also very fleeting. What you post on Facebook or Twitter today, is basically gone tomorrow. So, if one of my colleagues has the same question in two weeks, chances are she’ll have to ask it again. Plus, there’s always the danger of posts getting lost in the constant noise of newspaper articles, cat photos and wedding invitations.

Building a More Permanent Space

Over the last few weeks I’ve been thinking about ways to make the communication between independent online teachers and educators less evanescent. What I’ve come up with is an approach which is as old as the Internet itself: yep, forums. A good forum can be a place away from the noise, where serious discussion takes place, and it can also act as a knowledge-base or archive for future questions and discussion. For example, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found an answer to a programming-related question by going to Google and reading though forum threads.

So, without further ado, I present to you: The LearnOutLive Teachers Forum.

If you’re an independent online teacher looking for a place where you can share your knowledge and experience with others, learn about educational tools, methods and websites, or just to hang out in your coffee breaks, you’re most welcome to join!

P.S.: This forum might be a bit different than other forums you have used before, because it utilizes the Muut Framework. Not only did I appreciate the absolutely blazing performance, minimal design and deep customizability, also their philosophy seemed somewhat compatible with what we’re trying to do here.

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photo: Some rights reserved by CaptPiper


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About the author: André Klein was born in Germany, has grown up and lived in many different places including Thailand, Sweden and Israel. He has produced two music albums, performed and organized literary readings, curated an experimental television program and is the author of various short stories and non-fiction works.


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Diane Gantenhammer: I am fortunate to say that my dream has come true. http://learnoutlive.com/online-teacher-diane-gantenhammer-interview/ http://learnoutlive.com/online-teacher-diane-gantenhammer-interview/#comments Mon, 12 May 2014 09:11:15 +0000 http://learnoutlive.com/?p=15030 The following interview is part of an interview series in which we feature education professionals from a variety of different fields in order to highlight individual efforts and creative solutions to education in the 21st century. If you want to participate simply...

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About the author: LearnOutLive Interviews is an interview series in which we feature private teachers and education professionals from a variety of different fields in order to highlight individual efforts and creative solutions to education in the 21st century. If you want to participate simply write down and send your answers to these five questions to info {at} learnoutlive.com and include a picture of yourself. (Please note that we reserve the right to not publish all submissions)


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The following interview is part of an interview series in which we feature education professionals from a variety of different fields in order to highlight individual efforts and creative solutions to education in the 21st century. If you want to participate simply write down and send your answers to the five below questions to info {at} learnoutlive.com and include a picture of yourself. (Please note that we reserve the right to not publish all submissions)

1teacher-diane. Who are you and what do you do in education?

My name is Diane, and I am the Founder of teacherdiane.com, a website providing personalized English lessons on Skype, grammar games, and an English language blog.

After a few years spent teaching English, I launched my website in January of 2013, with the almost idealistic dream of being able to travel the world and teach English online. I am fortunate to say that my dream has come true.

In my first year alone, I helped over forty students improve their English, and I have developed enough lesson plans to last an average teacher a lifetime.

As I approach my five-year anniversary of teaching English, I am proud to say that I have taught students from over 25 different countries. Although at times my eyes may be blurry, and my nighttime dreams full of English grammar, it has all been worth it.

Teacherdiane.com offers personalized English lessons on Skype and an Intermediate Skype Course. Based on my knowledge and experience, I have developed a method of learning English that I truly believe in– a method of easily explaining grammar concepts and offering students an opportunity to practice each grammar topic in a practical way, with writing, listening and speaking opportunities.

2. Describe a typical workday in your life!

Since launching my business, I have taken full advantage of my location independence. The past couple of years I have spent living in different locations throughout the world. I’ve spent some time in South America, I am currently in Asia, and I am planning to head to Europe in a few months.

One of the best parts of my job is that no day is typical for me. Most of the day is spent working, but the time when I’m not working is spent exploring my local surroundings or doing something active.

One day I am an English teacher, another day I’m an editor, a SEO marketer, a web developer, a video animator, or a guest blogger.

There are some routines that I do follow, though. I typically wake up early and check my email while eating breakfast. I respond to any student inquiries, and update my Facebook page, Twitter feed, and every few days, my English blog.

3. In what way has technology in general and the net in particular changed your work?

Technology and the Internet have changed my work in a huge way. One hundred percent of my work is done with the aid of a computer. From creating English video tutorials to lesson planning, blogging and most importantly giving students English lessons on Skype. I am a very visual teacher, and initially I was hesitant to try giving lessons on Skype, but during my lessons, I use my tablet along with screen sharing technology to make students really feel like they are in a classroom.

Twenty years ago if someone had told me that my future job would involve speaking with people from all over the world each day, but from the comfort of my own home, I would have told them that they were crazy.

4. What challenges do you see for education in the future?

Over the past few years, so many new possibilities for learning have emerged, from free online courses, to educational video games and interactive activities with iPads integrated into classroom learning. Access to so much information is at our fingertips (assuming that you have access to a computer and Internet).

But will these new resources be as effective as a good old traditional classroom education? Will these new resources be able to keep up with the increasingly shortened attention spans of learners? Some researchers say that a typical student’s attention span is about 7-10 minutes long. How can a student find motivation to learn in a world with so many distractions?

I can only hope that the information and resources we have available are used effectively in the future. And that we can find new ways to make learning fun!

5. Where can we find you online?

Website: teacherdiane.com
Blog: teacherdiane.com/blog
Facebook: teacherdianeESL
Twitter: teacherdianeESL
YouTube: teacherdianeESL

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About the author: LearnOutLive Interviews is an interview series in which we feature private teachers and education professionals from a variety of different fields in order to highlight individual efforts and creative solutions to education in the 21st century. If you want to participate simply write down and send your answers to these five questions to info {at} learnoutlive.com and include a picture of yourself. (Please note that we reserve the right to not publish all submissions)


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Adéla Obermajerová: I teach people how to learn best by themselves http://learnoutlive.com/adela-obermajerova-can-teach-people-live-far-away-skype/ http://learnoutlive.com/adela-obermajerova-can-teach-people-live-far-away-skype/#comments Wed, 19 Mar 2014 13:29:00 +0000 http://learnoutlive.com/?p=14605 The following interview is part of an interview series in which we feature education professionals from a variety of different fields in order to highlight individual efforts and creative solutions to education in the 21st century. If you want to participate simply...

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About the author: LearnOutLive Interviews is an interview series in which we feature private teachers and education professionals from a variety of different fields in order to highlight individual efforts and creative solutions to education in the 21st century. If you want to participate simply write down and send your answers to these five questions to info {at} learnoutlive.com and include a picture of yourself. (Please note that we reserve the right to not publish all submissions)


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The following interview is part of an interview series in which we feature education professionals from a variety of different fields in order to highlight individual efforts and creative solutions to education in the 21st century. If you want to participate simply write down and send your answers to the five below questions to info {at} learnoutlive.com and include a picture of yourself. (Please note that we reserve the right to not publish all submissions)

1. Who are you and what do you do in education?

Well… The one who loves wearing skirts and earrings! Also, I work as an English language private tutor and consultant. Working with people from their late teens up to late adulthood, I currently specialize is providing 1-on-1 tutoring in General English combined with learning skills development and personal growth. It´s my mission to show people who are sometimes trying to learn English for many years with no result, that the problem is not in them – it is in the unsuitable, way too analytical methods they may have been using. I help the learner to reflect on their true motivation for learning and also on the main blocks they have. Of course it´s usually speaking blocks. Once identified, we work towards finding out where they come from and overcoming them using effective, yet simple tools like holistic learning and relaxation techniques. My courses are led completely without course books. Instead, I use interesting and fun internet resources and mainly, I encourage people to go “out in the world” and socialize in English!
My vision in education is not to teach anyone English but to help them know how to learn by themselves in a fun way, why. I´m convinced that this is the only way we learn languages: through dialogue and social interaction but by ourselves. This is actually how we have been doing since day 1 in our lives.

2. Describe a typical work day in your life!

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I get up at 7 and feed my two pet rabbits. I have been happy enough to find an appartment with my own teaching room so I can work eco-friendly from home. My tutorings start at around 9 – on the spot or via Skype. In the afternoon I feed back on the lessons, both for me and the learners, summarizing what we have been doing and where to go next. I am kind of a lighthouse who sheds light on the process of learning so that the learner would not get lost or lose motivation. I say it is vital to enjoy the journey but it is also good to know where we want to go. Next to preparing the courses, I spend a great deal of time searching for new learning resources both online and in the city of Prague.

3. In what way has technology in general and the net in particular changed your work?

Oh dear, it has changed my work a great deal! I have found that learning a language does not need to mean only doing exercises in a course book (though I used to love them as well – I loved everything about English:-) It can include the more fun things like watching videos and singing songs. More importantly, thanks to the net, you can make sure that the English you are dealing with, is up to date. As a professional, I have benefited from the net in the sense that it has enabled me to reach my target audience – learners who are really willing to make a progress – and not just “attend a course”. Those are the ones I can help most, for you know what they say: “If you’re not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you’re determined to learn, no one can stop you.” I can teach people who live far away from me through Skype, I can share tools with them that are widely accessible, and I can create my own tools like teaching videos. Last but not least, it means to me a wealth of knowledge of modern teaching methods and also a place of networking with like-minded teachers.

4. What challenges do you see for education in the future?

The challenge will be that there will be so much information available (if it is not already happening) and this shall pose two questions. One, will the traditional teaching at school desks lose all its sense? And two, will we know how to manage this overload of information? My view is the one that the school system will have to be transformed into helping children (and people) develop their true potential and present them with opportunities to learn rather than function as a transmitter of facts of knowledge. Information will be widely accessible but we will have to learn (or teach children) how to learn best by themselves.

5. Where can we find you online?

My blog: lotusenglish.cz
My Facebook site: facebook.com/lotusenglish
My YouTube channel: youtube.com/channel/UCbr9mdbVUNOCdLUbGn3Zkcg

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About the author: LearnOutLive Interviews is an interview series in which we feature private teachers and education professionals from a variety of different fields in order to highlight individual efforts and creative solutions to education in the 21st century. If you want to participate simply write down and send your answers to these five questions to info {at} learnoutlive.com and include a picture of yourself. (Please note that we reserve the right to not publish all submissions)


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Rachel Boyce: Technology has enabled me to interact with my students like never before http://learnoutlive.com/rachel-boyce-interview/ http://learnoutlive.com/rachel-boyce-interview/#comments Tue, 04 Feb 2014 08:37:54 +0000 http://learnoutlive.com/?p=14474 The following interview is part of an interview series in which we feature education professionals from a variety of different fields in order to highlight individual efforts and creative solutions to education in the 21st century. If you want to participate simply...

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About the author: LearnOutLive Interviews is an interview series in which we feature private teachers and education professionals from a variety of different fields in order to highlight individual efforts and creative solutions to education in the 21st century. If you want to participate simply write down and send your answers to these five questions to info {at} learnoutlive.com and include a picture of yourself. (Please note that we reserve the right to not publish all submissions)


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The following interview is part of an interview series in which we feature education professionals from a variety of different fields in order to highlight individual efforts and creative solutions to education in the 21st century. If you want to participate simply write down and send your answers to the five below questions to info {at} learnoutlive.com and include a picture of yourself. (Please note that we reserve the right to not publish all submissions)

1. Who are you and what do you do in education?

Rach Photo

I am originally from Northamptonshire, where I studied Art & Design at Nene College before attending University in Manchester where I graduated with a Bachelor of Education Honours degree. I have also completed a postgraduate in Business Administration at Salford University.

Before entering into education, I worked in a number of roles in sectors as diverse as import & export, IT, banking and insurance. I was previously employed as a Business Analyst for a major combined banking and insurance services group before moving to Italy in 2005, since when I have been teaching English as a second language to private individuals, local businesses and classes organised through local community groups. In particular I have worked with quite a few businesses that needed to learn and / or improve their English language skills in order to help them obtain new business from English speaking countries. While dong this, I have been able to utilise my previous business experiences in order to teach my students about the business culture and ethos of the UK.

I have also recently started freelance writing specialising in academic articles and in my spare time I play classical violin and I am currently learning to speak Russian.

2. Describe a typical work day in your life!

I don’t have a typical day in my work, my day really depends on what time I have lessons. I am available to teach every day, seven days a week from 9am to 9pm, but not all my time ‘slots’ are always booked up. I am up at 7:30 for breakfast and walking the dogs before starting work at 9am, if I don’t have a lesson to do first thing I work on planning my lessons for the day and week ahead. Once my students start to arrive, either individually or in small groups of 2-3, it is all go for a few hours at a time. I try to grab a bite to eat when I can.

Twice a week, I run beginners and intermediate English language evening classes for local business and community groups. Each class has up to 30 students, although it is very rare that all of them turn up to each lesson, some are local shop owners who don’t close until late some days, others work shifts at the local pasta factory. I try to spice up the lessons to keep the classes interested in learning; I use movies, music and lots of other fun exercises to keep them engaged. All of my students love it when I get out the karaoke CDs. After classes finish, we sometimes go off for a coffee at one of the local bars.

After each lesson, I tend to set homework for my students to reinforce learning points from the lesson, which I post for them online, or send via email. I use Facebook to set up private groups for each class, so they have a designated space to view homework and as a platform for outside discussion. It’s also where I post the lesson content for those who were unable to attend, so they don’t miss out. So there’s usually a lot of daily ‘admin’ outside of the actual teaching. In addition, each day I am either receiving completed homework for marking, or answering queries from my students, not only on homework issues but anything that they have seen or heard in relation to learning English and want clarification on.
I fill in any time I have between work each day with personal bits and pieces, gardening, walking the dogs or visiting friends and neighbours.

3. In what way has technology in general and the net in particular changed your work?

Besides using my computer and tablet to help organise and prepare my lessons, I also use them as a teaching aid to help with the delivery of teaching material. Technology has obviously made communication between teacher and student easier and more effective; I am able to interact with my student(s) quicker which enables me to answer questions and reinforce learning points more effectively.

Technology has also enabled me to interact with my students like never before, email alone is no longer good enough for my students who are all very social aware. Facebook has become the principle point of contact between me and my students and the messenger service is an ideal chat forum. With the rise of smart phones, everyone is always connected to Facebook, so I can get information to them instantly. I think social networks like this will eventually replace texting and email as the norm for communications. I like to use Facebook to supplement my lessons and it helps to provide a variety of content, as well as a boost to engaging students. Much better than the old pen, paper and exercise book!

Social networks have also become my main source of finding prospective students, who can find me and interact with me and my existing students in real-time before deciding whether or not to start lessons with me. They can also get real input from people who are current or past students which gives them confidence in me as a teacher. I am also able to keep in contact with ex-students who I am constantly engaging with to offer support for exams or CV’s.

The internet has become a great source of free resources for language teachers and students alike, but I have also found that it is a great place to earn a living from. I have recently begun to offer English language lessons on-line via Skype or other video-conferencing services. It has enabled me to expand my reach globally to any English language learners and give me many more options to expand and increase my business base. Although technology has been a part of my life for many years, I feel that I have never used it to its full potential, so I have recently begun to explore which technologies available to me I can utilise to help me and my students.

4. What challenges do you see for education in the future?

I think the internet and the amount of information out there is a great challenge for education. The information needs to be filtered with care to ensure the content is appropriate and correct. People can publish anything they like these days on the internet, via social media, YouTube etc. and it is not always correct on many levels, socially, ethically, morally, as well as educationally or (for my area of expertise – English) grammatically! It concerns me that there doesn’t seem to be any form of moderation for information and I wonder what the long terms effects may be for the next generation. I am concerned that things will become too instant and too informal. A little patience and formality is good at times and it is more appropriate in some learning situations in my opinion.

5. Where can we find you online?

Facebook: facebook.com/calazzottolanglab
Twitter: @calazzotto
Blogs: theteacherabroad.blogspot.com / calazzottolanglab.blogspot.com

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About the author: LearnOutLive Interviews is an interview series in which we feature private teachers and education professionals from a variety of different fields in order to highlight individual efforts and creative solutions to education in the 21st century. If you want to participate simply write down and send your answers to these five questions to info {at} learnoutlive.com and include a picture of yourself. (Please note that we reserve the right to not publish all submissions)


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How to Advertise as an Independent Tutor http://learnoutlive.com/advertise-independent-tutor/ http://learnoutlive.com/advertise-independent-tutor/#comments Tue, 29 Oct 2013 09:50:25 +0000 http://learnoutlive.com/?p=14121 After LearnOutLive’s recent article on the pitfalls of being an online teacher highlighted just a small part of the challenges faced by teachers who choose to go for unconventional methods, I started thinking about independent teaching. Being a tutor, a teacher and...

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About the author: Kerstin Hammes is a native German speaker and has lived in the UK since 2003. She’s passionate about languages and has studied English, French, Italian, Latin, Spanish and Russian. Kerstin is the lady behind Fluent Language Tuition and teaches students of German, French and English as a Foreign Language as a tutor and coach. You can say hello to her on Twitter, Facebook and Google+


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thai-notice-board, photo by by g_firkser via flickr (CC)

After LearnOutLive’s recent article on the pitfalls of being an online teacher highlighted just a small part of the challenges faced by teachers who choose to go for unconventional methods, I started thinking about independent teaching. Being a tutor, a teacher and an instructor is in every human’s hardware just as much as being a learner is (Sylvia Guinan summed it up on Wiziq recently). So when a human being is immersed in learning and teaching, this has got to be a beautiful experience.

Yet I find that having decided to offer my classes independently, I took on its drawbacks too. Do you recognise these?

  • I have to work harder to find a support system than a school teacher does.
  • I rely on testimonials, word of mouth, google results and my own advertising campaigns to earn a living.
  • It is not uncommon to find that larger organisations will take a sole trading professional in language learning a lot less seriously than a school teacher, so the independent business life is not for anyone craving political influence.
  • Not lastly, the global competition is significant and sometimes we’d all surely like to trade in 70% of our waking hours for a secure payslip at the end of the month.

Ultimately, being a successful online or private or independent educator takes more than just a love of teaching, an urge to improve the world or a lot of subject knowledge. We have a business to run, and advertising to do. And most importantly: Every student who chooses to study with an independent trusts that they will receive the attention and commitment from us that they deserve. Fulfilling this responsibility is what makes us a great choice for anyone wishing to learn.

Here are three reasons why I believe students will get the best out of choosing me as their tutor. I urge you to consider if they apply to you, too, and to be really proud of them. Would you advertise these reasons?

1) I go at the learner’s pace

In private lessons, one of the core benefits for every student is that they can benefit from the full attention of their teacher. Where a mistake keeps cropping up repeatedly, it’s easier to provide targeted exercises and work together so that these particular weaknesses are addressed quickly.Where a self-taught course fails you in terms of giving a new way of explaining something complicated, the private tutor knows that this is their job and will not tire of providing examples

2) I know about exams, but only care about exams if my students do.

Private tuition means learning at the right pace, having a lot of fun and being free from the pressure of a curriculum, but sometimes nothing will lead you around a standardised test – this could be because you are showing proof of your skills for someone else, but is also a beneficial goal for self-taught learners who want a challenge. From TOEFL to Goethe Zertifikat, independent tutors like me are not locked into a specific system and will be able to advise on the best exam, give you an honest view its suitability and come up with a learning plan that starts with your requirements, not anyone else’s.

3) I am dedicated to student satisfaction

I work really hard on coming up with fresh exercises that fit right in with my students’ needs, and this means creating a lot of my own learning materials. In addition, I love blogging about language learning and use this to show off my knowledge and expertise on the subject. From analysing pop songs to organising class auctions, it’s always important to me that every learner feels they are learning language in use as well as in theory.

I would love to hear why you are an independent teacher, and what your pitches are. Why will a learner have to choose YOU?

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photo:  Some rights reserved by g_firkser


You’ve been reading a guest post by Kerstin Hammes

Kerstin Hammes

Kerstin Hammes is a native German speaker and has lived in the UK since 2003. She’s passionate about languages and has studied English, French, Italian, Latin, Spanish and Russian. Kerstin is the lady behind Fluent Language Tuition and teaches students of German, French and English as a Foreign Language as a tutor and coach.  You can say hello to her on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ 


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About the author: Kerstin Hammes is a native German speaker and has lived in the UK since 2003. She’s passionate about languages and has studied English, French, Italian, Latin, Spanish and Russian. Kerstin is the lady behind Fluent Language Tuition and teaches students of German, French and English as a Foreign Language as a tutor and coach. You can say hello to her on Twitter, Facebook and Google+


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3 Reasons Why Online Teachers Fail http://learnoutlive.com/online-teachers-fail/ http://learnoutlive.com/online-teachers-fail/#comments Fri, 11 Oct 2013 15:23:40 +0000 http://learnoutlive.com/?p=13967 Online teaching is still a mystery to many people. How does it work? What are the requirements? Does it pay the bills? Where to start? There are many websites that promise online teachers a quick and effortless start. I’ve found,...

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About the author: André Klein was born in Germany, has grown up and lived in many different places including Thailand, Sweden and Israel. He has produced two music albums, performed and organized literary readings, curated an experimental television program and is the author of various short stories and non-fiction works.


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Online teaching is still a mystery to many people. How does it work? What are the requirements? Does it pay the bills? Where to start?

There are many websites that promise online teachers a quick and effortless start. I’ve found, however, that making yourself independent from the beginning — if harder at first — pays off much more in the long run, both financially and in terms of personal development.

Over the last few years I’ve written a number of articles on this blog (bundled in my book “How To Teach Online without Selling Your Soul“) about the journey of teaching online for a living. Today I’d like to talk a bit about the reasons why many online teachers eventually give up altogether or cave in to mainstream online teaching platforms that take a big bite out of their salaries.

Running an online teaching business is exactly that: a business — regardless of one’s didactic skills, there are a number of reasons why some online teachers fail where others succeed. Here are a few of the reasons:

1. Online Teachers Fail Because Of Bad Site Design

Most independent online teachers have their own website and domain. The main purpose of an online teacher’s website is to attract new students and transform visitors into clients. It doesn’t matter what subject you’re teaching, whether it’s advanced algebra or Gaelic, your website either works, or it doesn’t.

When I talk about design, I’m not referring to color-harmonies, typesetting and visual styles (although that’s all important). What I mean by design is the mechanics of an online teachers’s website. In that sense, good design is not a matter of taste, it’s a matter of functionality.

Thanks to our free online teachers directory I see a lot of online teachers’ websites every day. Unfortunately, many websites of online teachers suffer from bad design. In other words, they don’t seem to be doing a good job of turning visitors into clients.

It’s very easy these days to create a webpage. Almost too easy, in that it just takes a few clicks to add all kinds of widgets, shmidgets, social media bars, buttons, popups and toolbars until a website becomes completely unusable.

Let’s start from the beginning. A website should connect students or clients with the online teacher.

online teachers website

Think of the website like a portal. It should bring the student directly to you, the online teacher. This is its sole purpose. Everything else on the website should be subordinated to this primary function.

I’m very well aware that an online teacher’s website should showcase the educator’s professional interests, activities, history and many other details around his or her profession, but if you want your website to turn potential visitors into paying clients, all of this information has to be organized in such a way that it doesn’t interfere with the site’s primary function.

online teachers website

Generally speaking, each link leading away from your website already is problematic. Again, of course there will be lots of interesting links which are relevant for students, but they have to be organized in such a way that they don’t distract from the main goal (think about organizing vertically, not just horizontally)

Good Design Reduces Complexity

Let’s start by looking at a general menu or navigation element of a website. As a general rule of thumb: the less options the better. Each option that doesn’t directly contribute to establishing a connection between student and teacher shouldn’t be visible (or at least not on the same organizational hierarchy level).

Photo 11.10.13 18 50 41

To help you organize this information, put yourself in the shoes of a potential client. If they are actually interested in taking lessons, they will want to know at least three things: a) who’s the teacher? – b) how much does a lesson cost? – c) how can I contact the teacher?

Think of a potential path a visitor might follow through the site, for example About -> Pricing -> Contact. If your website was a funnel, which part would be the top and which the bottom? Where do you want a visitor to end up? By thinking about these questions, it becomes very easy to organize a menu (or any other information) so that it leads to results.

online teaching menu

Unfortunately, many online teachers’ websites look like this. The visitor is overloaded with too many options which are not organized along a clear path. Instead of leading a visitor towards a clear goal (such as filling out a contact form for example) prospective clients are scattered or even led away to completely unrelated websites.

How To Build an Online Teaching Website That Works

In general, it doesn’t matter what system you use to build a website. It could be built on Joomla, WordPress or even simple HTML. As long as it’s designed well it will deliver results.

Many people are overwhelmed by the technical aspects at the beginning, but the kind of structural thinking I’ve been speaking about has really nothing to do with the technology or platform a website is built on.

Personally, I really like WordPress, so I’ve written two tutorials on how to build a very basic online teaching website:

10 Steps To Your Online Teaching Website

10 More Steps To Your Online Teaching Website

2. Online Teachers Fail Because They Are “Ungoogleable”

Everyone talks about Social Media these days, and it has become an integral part of running any kind of online business. However, it does not replace the fact that if people can’t find your website on Google (or other search engines) it’s virtually non-existent.

The process of making sure one’s site can be found on Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. is called search engine optimization or short: SEO. There are a lot of rumors about SEO. Many people think it’s a waste of time, however, as this infographic shows, these opinions are often based on misunderstandings or deceptions.

But what does it actually mean to “be found” on Google? It certainly doesn’t mean showing up on Google results page 300! In fact, as you can see in this graphic below, if your page doesn’t show up on the first Google search results page, traffic is radically shrinking.

diagram via seobook.com

Everything after search results page 3f is equally invisible …

There’s a lot to be said about SEO. I’ve written a very basic introduction here on this blog: SEO How To: Search Engine Optimization: 5 Simple Tips For Beginners

Another great resource for beginners and seasoned search engine optimizers is seobook.com. If you’re running a WordPress blog, also check out this plugin to help you optimize your posts and pages.

3. Online Teachers Fail Because They Don’t Create Content

This is closely related to point two: the more content an online teaching website has, the more it will show up on search engines.

For example, I always recommend that online teachers start a blog, because it not only showcases a teacher’s skills and personality, tells visitors that a site is well-maintained – a blog can also radically increase a website’s visibility on Google and other search engines, if done right.

For example, if there are only three pages on your website and these do not rank well on Google, writing blog posts that target less competitive keywords can be a great way to gain visibility.

Perhaps your website is offering French lessons via Skype, but when people search for “French lessons via Skype” the site only shows up somewhere after page three. What to do? It might be a good idea to find less competitive keywords and keyphrases, and write blog post around them. You might find that it will be much easier to rank higher for specific search phrases such as “French vocabulary for beginners” than your primary keywords.

These keywords may not be directly related, but they will still be relevant! Plus, you can try to target new related phrases with each new blogpost.

You can find related keywords by using Google’s Keyword Planner. Taking a look at monthly search volume and competition will give you a quick idea if it’s worthwhile pursuing a certain search phrase.

Pro-Tip: Look out for so-called “long-tail” keywords. These are very specific search terms which often do not bring a lot of traffic per month but pay off in the long run due to their high relevance. To find these long-tail keywords, start your keyword research from the lowest amount of hits per month and work your way upwards, noting down possible keywords along the way.

showing related keywords for "learn french" and a potential long-tail search phrase

showing related keywords for “learn french” and a potential long-tail search phrase

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img: pie chart via seobook, illustration: CC by Rakka


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About the author: André Klein was born in Germany, has grown up and lived in many different places including Thailand, Sweden and Israel. He has produced two music albums, performed and organized literary readings, curated an experimental television program and is the author of various short stories and non-fiction works.


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How To Create Doodle Videos For Language Teaching http://learnoutlive.com/how-to-create-doodle-videos-for-language-teaching/ http://learnoutlive.com/how-to-create-doodle-videos-for-language-teaching/#comments Thu, 19 Sep 2013 15:42:22 +0000 http://learnoutlive.com/?p=13738 Did you know that Doodle Videos can be a great way to teach languages? We don’t learn a language only by reading, or only by listening. Learning a language is a multi-sensory process. Looking at a text or listening alone is...

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About the author: André Klein was born in Germany, has grown up and lived in many different places including Thailand, Sweden and Israel. He has produced two music albums, performed and organized literary readings, curated an experimental television program and is the author of various short stories and non-fiction works.


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Did you know that Doodle Videos can be a great way to teach languages?

We don’t learn a language only by reading, or only by listening. Learning a language is a multi-sensory process. Looking at a text or listening alone is not enough. We need to listen, speak, read, write and observe in order to acquire a new language.

In German, we say that that a good teacher should always make his lessons “anschaulich”, often translated as “vivid” (lively, from lat. videre, to live). But what the word really means is to present new material in such a way that it can be easily grasped by “looking at” (anschauen) it.

This is not a new idea. For centuries teachers have been using blackboards (and later whiteboards) to illustrate and visualize new concepts for learners. Through the use of modern digital tools, however, we have gained new possibilities.

What Are Doodle or Scribble Videos?

In the last few years, many companies have been using doodle videos as a promotional tool, creating demo videos or describing a new service. But what is a doodle video? In case you’ve never seen one before, a doodle video generally shows a hand (from above) writing and drawing things on paper.

While these kinds of videos may already have exhausted their novelty value in marketing, they still can be a powerful tool for teaching languages.

How To Make a Doodle Video?

A few years ago I was helping a non-profit organization build a live-video broadcasting studio. One part of the broadcast was showing an instructor’s hand (from above) drawing diagrams while he was talking. In order to achieve the desired effect, we had to bolt a camera onto the ceiling and keep moving lights around for hours.

In other words, this approach is not very practical for teachers or other individuals who quickly want to visualize something.

Luckily, there’s “an app for that”. It’s called VideoScribe, and it lets you quickly create doodle videos, even for free.

How Can I Create Doodle Videos With VideoScribe?

First of all, you need to register at videoscribe.tv. Signing up for an account is free. Then you need to download the software, VideoScribe Desktop, which you can use freely for seven days. Doodle videos created with a free account are branded (a little logo in the lower right) and a short outro, but for many teaching purposes, this will not be a problem. Premium licenses cost £16 montly, £119 yearly, or £398 forever.

After downloading the software you can start your first project.

Here’s an overview of the main screen:

create doodle videos with VideoScribe

First of all, you can add an image doodle. You can either pick one of the prepared doodles from the software’s library, or import your own from your harddrive or even directly from the web. The software works with vector images, so it easily integrates graphics from sites such as openclipart.org.

After choosing an image and placing it on the stage, we can preview how it will be drawn in the doodle video:

In the same manner, we can add text to the stage and preview:

Adding Voice-Over and Publishing Your Doodle Video

This tool has many features, and although I figured most of it out within a few hours, beginners struggling with camera control and sequencing may find it helpful to take a look at the tutorials section.

Another helpful option is that you can directly record your voice into the application. By looking directly at the animations while recording, it may be easier to time your voice-over. (Personally, I prefer to do the audio first and then time the video, but that’s just me.)

After your doodle video is complete, you can save it to your computer or publish it directly on YouTube, Facebook or Dropbox.

Usage and Examples Of Doodle Videos For Language Teaching

As I’ve written above, the more senses we use while learning a language, the better. By creating a simple doodle video with voice we can have multiple effects in language teaching. If we take a look at the example of the coffee cup, we communicate on three levels simultaneously: the visualization of the object, the word for it, and the pronunciation.

Curious how it all comes together? I’ve recently created two videos from my new book for German learners for beginners. The videos come with subtitles for additional learning benefits.

Learn German with Stories: Café in Berlin (Chapter 1)

 

Learn German with Stories: Café in Berlin (Chapter 2)

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images: VideoScribe

Disclaimer: this post contains two affiliate links


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About the author: André Klein was born in Germany, has grown up and lived in many different places including Thailand, Sweden and Israel. He has produced two music albums, performed and organized literary readings, curated an experimental television program and is the author of various short stories and non-fiction works.


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Sophie dePons: Education has to be Revived With New Trends http://learnoutlive.com/sophie-depons-education-has-to-be-revived-with-new-trends/ http://learnoutlive.com/sophie-depons-education-has-to-be-revived-with-new-trends/#comments Thu, 14 Mar 2013 17:42:12 +0000 http://learnoutlive.com/?p=12922 The following interview is part of an interview series in which we feature education professionals from a variety of different fields in order to highlight individual efforts and creative solutions to education in the 21st century. If you want to participate simply...

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About the author: LearnOutLive Interviews is an interview series in which we feature private teachers and education professionals from a variety of different fields in order to highlight individual efforts and creative solutions to education in the 21st century. If you want to participate simply write down and send your answers to these five questions to info {at} learnoutlive.com and include a picture of yourself. (Please note that we reserve the right to not publish all submissions)


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The following interview is part of an interview series in which we feature education professionals from a variety of different fields in order to highlight individual efforts and creative solutions to education in the 21st century. If you want to participate simply write down and send your answers to the five below questions to info {at} learnoutlive.com and include a picture of yourself. (Please note that we reserve the right to not publish all submissions)

1. Who are you and what do you do in education?

Sophie_dePonsI always think of myself as having 2 lives. One in the past, when I was in France where I was born and grew up, and one now, in Florida where I live. The two are completely different. In France, I studied business and had a typical career in Human resources in a big company. In the States, I am my own boss because that is what I always wanted to be and I must admit, it is much easier to do it here than in France.

I chose the path of tutoring French by chance. One of my friends was looking to improve her French and I started to help her. I realized that I really enjoyed doing so, and it reminded me of being 7 or 8 playing teacher in my bedroom in front of invisible pupils…I didn’t follow this path then because everyone around me was telling me that I would never make money with that profession. Well, they were not completely wrong, unfortunately…. So I cannot say I have many years of tutoring experience behind me but I get very good reviews from my clients on sites where I advertise my services and that is very rewarding.

What I like the most now is the contact with my clients especially always trying to offer them the best professional services that I can.

2. Describe a typical work day in your life!

I just turned 49 but I am a young mother! My younger kid is 5….So my day is full. After dropping him off at daycare and after a good homemade cappuccino, my day is a mixture of private lessons, group lessons, Skype lessons, organizing meetings with my french club through Meetup , working on my blog, updating my professional Facebook page, following sites like Edupreneurs Club (all all the very inspiring edupreneurs there), Fair Languages and Twitter (among many others) to stay informed of all new trends in education, and all available resources that can help me build my lessons and most of all be more efficient. When I find extra time, I work on an e-book of French texts that I hope to publish soon. Let’s be honest: I would have much more time if I didn’t have two mornings a week playing competitive tennis against clubs in the women’s league, but I cannot stop this. Tennis is my other passion.

3. In what way has technology in general and the net in particular changed your work?

I have always been a fan of new technology and internet. My daughter who is 18 always says that I am more aware of new trends in that field than she is. Even in my career as a Human resources manager, I was always ahead in that field. It was therefore very natural for me to apply this interest in the education field. I like to use a wide variety of resources and tools to help my clients improve faster. However, the challenge for me now is to find the time. For example, I have wanted to start making videos for YouTube for years, yet I still haven’t found the time to do it. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed when thinking of all that I could and should do and also seeing all the competition out there doing so, and sadly this just diminishes my energy. A weakness….

4. What challenges do you see for education in the future?

Education is a very broad field and I only operate in a very small portion of it. In a broader sense, I believe that education has to be revived by new trends like the concept of flipped classroom which I actually try to apply in my own tutoring approach.

The challenge is to convince everyone of the necessity of renewal and to get things done, especially in countries like France where everything is….so…..slow…..to…..change…..My older son is in school in Paris and seeing him still take notes on a paper notebook while the teacher is talking makes me crazy. Also, I believe in public school and hate to see that more and more of my friends put their kids in private school because these schools have better teachers with more resources, especially in the States. There is a real challenge for public schools to find the funds and the energy to keep attracting students and stay alive.

In the tutoring field, the challenge is to keep the clients motivated to learn and to teach them how to use the many free resources on the net wisely, whilst encouraging them to continue to use paying services and to pay good money for them. I must admit that seeing teachers/tutors charging sometimes so little, especially for their Skype lessons, drives me nuts. They are devaluing the profession and the asset that is speaking another language. Of course, it is a dream that everyone have access to free or very cheap education on the net and luckily it is more and more the case, but there will always be people who at some point need a tutor: this is a niche and in business, any niche requires specific, highly valued services.

You might have noticed: I never call my clients students. They are clients, customers. I run a business. If I cannot offer my clients anything else than what the net offers, then yes, my services have to be cheap, even free. But I strongly believe that I offer them an added value and a global offer, thus justifying charging a higher rate. This should be all private teachers/tutors’ strategy.

4. Where can we find you online?

My website: french-classes4u.com
My blog: french-amis.com
My Facebook page: facebook.com/french.amis

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About the author: LearnOutLive Interviews is an interview series in which we feature private teachers and education professionals from a variety of different fields in order to highlight individual efforts and creative solutions to education in the 21st century. If you want to participate simply write down and send your answers to these five questions to info {at} learnoutlive.com and include a picture of yourself. (Please note that we reserve the right to not publish all submissions)


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How To Build Up A Thriving Personal Learning Network In 2013 http://learnoutlive.com/how-to-build-up-a-thriving-personal-learning-network-in-2013/ http://learnoutlive.com/how-to-build-up-a-thriving-personal-learning-network-in-2013/#comments Wed, 09 Jan 2013 10:23:13 +0000 http://learnoutlive.com/?p=12523 1) Don’t even try The reason I say this is because I think that network building is natural, especially on the internet. You don’t have to pluck up the courage to make important phone calls, force yourself to join elitist...

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About the author: Sylvia Guinan has a degree in English literature and has been teaching for fifteen years. She began teaching online in 2010 and is particularly interested in brain-friendly learning methods,tools, environments and communities.


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1) Don’t even try

The reason I say this is because I think that network building is natural, especially on the internet. You don’t have to pluck up the courage to make important phone calls, force yourself to join elitist clubs, or hobnob with the cream of society just to pass out some business cards. If you are true to your own passion and business interests, your network will come to you. This worked particularly well for me when I first came online.

I was in full research mode and soaking up any kind of information I could to set up my online business. I was after tech savvy knowledge, brain-friendly ideas, virtual classrooms, web tools, environments, content creation and writing opportunities.

Amongst my first contacts and closest members of my PLN today is one influential teacher on WiZiQ who shared my obsession about right-brain learning.

Stumbling across a thread where someone is debating a topic you’ve been studying for years, but which is too nerdy for your home network to swallow, is a lovely accident of serendipity.

Another important contact is a writer, social media expert, wordpress expert and online teacher who has influenced my writing/blogging and even career direction. Others in my PLN are some of the most brilliant and eccentric movers and shakers in ELT . In general my tribe consists of those who excel in what I want to learn, and those who want to learn what I excel in.

This network building happened naturally in very fun ways because if you love your work, you will easily meet other who love their work too.

 

2) Share, share, share….

This is the best way to get noticed on social networks, and again, it’s something I did subconsciously. I had no ‘plan’ other than to create an online presence on facebook as the experts recommended. As I was very busy learning about web 2.0 technology, virtual classrooms and content creation, I could not see the value in messing around on facebook. What I did was work fanatically doing research and creating content, but I shared everything I found and everything I did on facebook. I also held free public classes and shared the recordings of my classes. My PLN just blossomed and thrived with the fertilizer of an open spirit and willingness to apply the karma principle.

 

3) Sniff out substance

Find the experts who know what you are interested in and add them as friends/contacts etc. across networks.

If you are not focused on your goals your network can grow wild and confusing, so that must always be your top priority. If you get lost in the ELT wilderness online, your PLN will remain distant, elusive and of little benefit to yourself or anyone else.

 

4) NLP your PLN

I don’t mean to get too scientific or nerdy, but I just couldn’t resist inverting the acronym. This is also one of the most crucial points I will make here.

Many people may feel inferior to top names in the business, or ‘too ordinary’ to carve out their own niches. They also may feel that the experts have done it all and there are no niches left. Once you get over this limiting belief, you will be in big trouble because you won’t be able to turn off your creativity tap. The last thing I ever worry about is ideas, but that’s because I have trained my brain to be inquisitive and think outside the box.

Back to NLPing PLNS.

NLP stands for neuro-linguistc programming and it’s a relatively new branch of practical psychology making its way into education. It’s also closely related to neuro-science and brain-based learning, which is how I got into it.

Anyway, one of the corner stones of NLP is the modelling concept. If you want to learn something, you must follow someone who is already doing it. Instead of being overwhelmed by the success of others, be inspired by it. Those people we admire are probably facing their own struggles, but we can’t see it from where we are. You will be very surprised about how you can reciprocate the learning at a later date and to discover that you too have much that those experts may want to learn from you.

Modelling someone is as natural as growing up. You observe what they do and how they do it – read their blogs, examine their websites, follow what they say on Facebook or Twitter. Take parts of what they do and practice it in your own way, tweak their techniques, personalize them and transform them into your own vision.

This does not mean we are copy cats or indulge in plagiary, but it does mean that we can learn the substance of what they do, and be positively influenced by it.

 

5) Attend to your attitude

Attitude is everything in business. If you are not genuine about the higher purpose of your work or if your integrity is too often compromised, your PLN presence will begin to stink. We live in a suspicious world and it takes time to build up trust. I do it quickly and painlessly by being myself, having no hidden agendas or ulterior motives, and ,mostly, by knowing 100% that whatever I share with my PLN is going to make my business and network stronger in the long run. The feel good factor is also very motivating, so you are less likely to get jaded or exhausted in this precarious business of Edupreneuring. If you want something from a member of your PLN just say so. If you need help, ask. If you are following the right people, your common interests will speak for themselves

I think that a common misconception is that we must hoard our ideas in case someone steals them. The truth is that once you become generous with your ideas they will flow more freely and you will never be stuck again. This also leads to collaborative brain-storming and many exciting rabbit holes to discover. For me, it led to many collaborative projects that have enriched my work and my preutation.

Another problem is feeling jealous of other people who are on a roll if you feel stuck in the doldrums. We all have peaks and valleys, so if you are happy for the success of your colleagues and express genuine support, your day will come too, and you will be very grateful for a supportive network that wants to share your success.

 

6) Don’t hog the blog

I can’t recommend blogging highly enough. Your blog will reflect who you are in ELT, what you are interested, and how you can help people. Blogs can also be PLN killers if you write in an egocentric manner and only write about yourself, what you do and what you want. If you fail to write with the reader in mind, don’t share deep content, hoard your true knowledge or treat writing like a visit to the dentist, you will repel your readership and network. It’s a gentle balancing act. Writing only what you think is popular, on the other hand, will be false and unconvincing.

What I do is write about my passionate interests but frame the concepts in a way that makes it meaningful for the whole ELT community or learning community.

Let me add that if you are not comfortable blogging, use video or other multi-media. You tube is probably more effective than blogging, but writing suits me as a medium, especially as I have small kids ,so I can interrupt my writing any time, but have an irrational fear of being caught with an unexpected tantrum on ‘the set’ of you tube.

 

7) No one is too high up for you or too low down

The miracle of modern technology is that you can network with anyone no matter how famous they are. Obviously, it’s a question of distance. For example, I follow Sir Ken Robinson, but it doesn’t mean that we are going to chat for hours on skype or that he knows I exist. It does mean, however that I read his books, follow him on Networks and read his linkedin ‘Thought Leader’ posts.

On the other extreme, as a busy Edupreneur you cannot allow your wider circles on facebook to flood your inbox or keep you chatting on threads all day long. You can share with everybody – no one is lower down than you on any kind of hierarchy, but your time is important as everyone has to earn a living. Therefore you must also develop the art of sharing, responding and engaging without becoming bogged down or getting your energy sapped. This is an art I’m still working on.

My final advice is to focus on the capital P in PERSONAL learning network. Be yourself if you wish to be truly connected.

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You’ve been reading a guest post by Sylvia Guinan.

img credit: onlinecollege.org


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About the author: Sylvia Guinan has a degree in English literature and has been teaching for fifteen years. She began teaching online in 2010 and is particularly interested in brain-friendly learning methods,tools, environments and communities.


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Online Learning as a Coping Strategy In Times Of Conflict http://learnoutlive.com/online-learning-as-a-coping-strategy-in-times-of-conflict/ http://learnoutlive.com/online-learning-as-a-coping-strategy-in-times-of-conflict/#comments Tue, 20 Nov 2012 12:13:55 +0000 http://learnoutlive.com/?p=12358 We usually tend to think of learning as a means to an end, i.e. learning medicine to become a doctor, etc. But in some areas of the world, learning has a very different function in addition to that. One of...

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About the author: André Klein was born in Germany, has grown up and lived in many different places including Thailand, Sweden and Israel. He has produced two music albums, performed and organized literary readings, curated an experimental television program and is the author of various short stories and non-fiction works.


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We usually tend to think of learning as a means to an end, i.e. learning medicine to become a doctor, etc. But in some areas of the world, learning has a very different function in addition to that.

One of these areas is South Israel whose citizens have been under rocket attacks by Islamic fundamentalists for twelve years. Only recently, due to Israel’s military response has this issue returned to the front pages of newspapers and websites, but the problem has always been there.

Students in Sderot waiting out a rocket attack (source)

These people and their children live in constant dread of the next air raid siren going off, interrupting their work, daily schedule and school, only to run to a bomb shelter. In some cities people have 45 seconds, in others they have less than 20 seconds to secure themselves before the rocket impacts.

Even when there is a rare week without an attack, the possibility of yet another run to the shelter lingers constantly in the back of the mind. How do people deal with this situation and go on about their daily business without succumbing to pure hysteria? Ynet published an article recently that describes how children and parents relate to this constant threat.

“When I do my homework I do not forget the alarm, but it’s more comforting me”

This week, like many weeks before, schools in southern cities such as Ashkelon, Ashdod and Beersheba had to be closed due to terrorist attacks on public schools. Shachar, a fifth grader in Be’er Tuvia says what she misses most are her friends, because most children are afraid to leave the house.

Sitting at home, close to bomb shelters, parents try to occupy their children with video games, board games and television, but these activities are limited, says Shachar’s mother. Teachers stay in contact with students and send them worksheets and tasks via email which the students can print and solve at home.

Omer, a fourth-grader says that these activities help him cope with the terrifying situation during the rocket barrages. “When I do my homework I don’t forget the alarm, but it’s comforting me,” he says. “But when I communicate to my friends I miss them and want to go back to school.”

a school in Ashkelon that was struck by a missile from Gazan radicals (source)

“Return to fun, pencil and eraser”

For older students who are preparing for exams, closed schools mean a loss of precious time. Aviad Shamriz, a grade school senior is currently preparing for a big history exam. “There is a lot of material and every day we are not going to school is a big loss for us,” he says, “I read the study material, answer the questions and practice.”

Teachers also try to keep in touch with students in these tense days. A teacher at a school in Ashdod corresponds via the Internet with her class every day and even talks to them on the phone every other day. “One student wrote to me that she makes costumes from her parent’s closet and every day dresses up as something else. Another student wrote she makes lemon juice. The answer vary, but there’s a very important value that they return to fun, pencil and eraser. “

Real-Time Live Lessons In Emergency Situations

In the meantime, the Beersheba municipal Ministry of Education yesterday morning launched the first system of its kind in Israeli schools which enables the synchronized transfer of live online lessons. Students will now be able to sit at home and participate in real-time lessons, during which both teacher and classmates can see and hear each other and engage in discussion. Besides the live video and audio, teachers employ whiteboards that allow them to display images and write things down which each one of the students can see. In the light of success of this first pilot project, the municipality has decided to implement the project throughout the city.

In the mornings virtual meetings are being held between teachers and school administrators to learn the system. It is estimated that by the beginning of next week, students all over Beersheba, a city with a population of 194,300, will be able to participate in real-time lessons from home, if there’s a need. The Deputy Mayor and Commissioner of Education, said: “The city of Beersheba is glad about the opportunity to expand educational opportunities, and allow personal contact and also safe learning routines during emergency situations.”

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About the author: André Klein was born in Germany, has grown up and lived in many different places including Thailand, Sweden and Israel. He has produced two music albums, performed and organized literary readings, curated an experimental television program and is the author of various short stories and non-fiction works.


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The Flipped Office: Work at Home, Relax Outside http://learnoutlive.com/the-flipped-office-work-at-home-relax-outside/ http://learnoutlive.com/the-flipped-office-work-at-home-relax-outside/#comments Wed, 31 Oct 2012 12:32:11 +0000 http://learnoutlive.com/?p=12162 The concept of the “flipped classroom” refers to a reversal of traditional teaching, where the lecturing part happens outside of the classroom (i.e. through videos, reading, etc.) and the exercise or interaction part happens inside the classroom. While the “flipped...

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About the author: André Klein was born in Germany, has grown up and lived in many different places including Thailand, Sweden and Israel. He has produced two music albums, performed and organized literary readings, curated an experimental television program and is the author of various short stories and non-fiction works.


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The concept of the “flipped classroom” refers to a reversal of traditional teaching, where the lecturing part happens outside of the classroom (i.e. through videos, reading, etc.) and the exercise or interaction part happens inside the classroom.

While the “flipped classroom” is sometimes hyped in the manner of tech-evangelists, I believe that the idea is a valid one when understood as part of a broader trend. More precisely, it may not be limited to education at all but might illustrate general technology-induced changes in everyday living.

Work Outside, Relax at Home

A few years ago I was working as a teacher and spent at least 3 hours every day commuting. Fed up with hunting after buses and waiting for delayed trains in the snow I began thinking about a way out. Even the most respected, best-paid jobs would require at least a minimum amount of daily commuting and I just couldn’t imagine myself wasting away the next few decades in the commuting cycle. So I started shifting my teaching job to the Internet (as documented here) which allowed me to work from home or anywhere with an internet connection for that matter.

Slowly but surely things began to change. First of all, I gained a lot of time that I used to waste on commuting (which is basically a form of unpaid working time). Secondly, I noticed that I was now spending a lot of time at home, unsurprisingly perhaps, since building an online teaching business from the ground up required many hours of hard work and dedication, even outside the actual lessons.

In other words: my home, formerly a place to “crash” after a hard day’s work, now became my working place. I had gained a lot of free time, but I had lost a space to retreat from my work.

I’m sure many freelancers can relate to the fact that overworking can be a bigger issue when you’re self-employed than when you’re working for someone else and simply drop your tools the moment the bell rings.

On top of it I have to admit that while theoretically I could offer my lessons from any place with an internet connection, most of the time I continued to sit at my familiar desk at home. It might have been related to the fact that it’s very difficult to sit down and concentrate on a live-call in public wifi spots, or simply that the daily habit was becoming too ingrained. I should mention however, that online teaching did enable me to move to a foreign country while taking my job with me, but what I’m talking about here is daily habits, not geographical location.

And thus, while I had gained a lot of free time, became my own boss, moved to a different country and could theoretically work from anywhere on the planet, I felt I was missing out on something. And it took me a while before I noticed the missing link.

Relax Outside, Work at Home

One thing that always bothered me about teaching (whether offline or online) is that you have to show up at a certain time at a certain place (be it a virtual or a brick and mortar classroom). So I decided to shift my teaching activities to an asynchronous format, which is just a fancy way of saying that I started to write books which students could learn from in my absence. To make a long story short, I eventually arrived at a place where I didn’t have to slice my day into many different lesson slots anymore. And then, something interesting happened.

At first, I was continuing to live the way I had gotten accustomed to while teaching online, which basically meant working every day from my desk with a few holidays here and there.

Nevertheless, my home was still my office. I gained many great freedoms, but I still had “lost” my home as a retreat, so to speak.

Recently, I noticed another change. I found myself travelling a lot more, not just on “holidays” but on a consistent basis, as part of my weekly routine. And it was yesterday, riding a bus through the countryside when I noticed that I had (unconsciously) made a 180 degree turn from my early commuting life. Instead of travelling every day to work and coming home to rest, I was now working every day at home and travelling to rest.

As my wife put it, industrial man lived indoors and exploited the outdoors, while post-geographic humanity may work indoors and find new appreciation and life outdoors.

To make one thing absolutely clear: working from home is awesome, and I don’t regret my decision to quit the commuting life one bit. Nevertheless, I decided to write this article as a way to illustrate also the challenges. Also, I’m curious how other people relate to these challenges. Do you have a strict discipline to keep yourself from working too much? How do you find rest after working many hours from home? How do you balance outdoors and indoors?

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img:  Some rights reserved by fabcom


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About the author: André Klein was born in Germany, has grown up and lived in many different places including Thailand, Sweden and Israel. He has produced two music albums, performed and organized literary readings, curated an experimental television program and is the author of various short stories and non-fiction works.


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Nina Hanáková: Learning doesn’t belong to schools with desks and coursebooks http://learnoutlive.com/nina-hanakova-learning-doesnt-belong-to-schools-with-desks-and-coursebooks/ http://learnoutlive.com/nina-hanakova-learning-doesnt-belong-to-schools-with-desks-and-coursebooks/#comments Mon, 01 Oct 2012 08:38:03 +0000 http://learnoutlive.com/?p=12038 The following interview is part of an interview series in which we feature education professionals from a variety of different fields in order to highlight individual efforts and creative solutions to education in the 21st century. If you want to participate simply...

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About the author: LearnOutLive Interviews is an interview series in which we feature private teachers and education professionals from a variety of different fields in order to highlight individual efforts and creative solutions to education in the 21st century. If you want to participate simply write down and send your answers to these five questions to info {at} learnoutlive.com and include a picture of yourself. (Please note that we reserve the right to not publish all submissions)


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The following interview is part of an interview series in which we feature education professionals from a variety of different fields in order to highlight individual efforts and creative solutions to education in the 21st century. If you want to participate simply write down and send your answers to the five below questions to info {at} learnoutlive.com and include a picture of yourself. (Please note that we reserve the right to not publish all submissions)


video on youtube

 

1. Who are you and what do you do in education?

I am a freelance English teacher from Brno, the second largest city in the Czech Republic (400.000 inhabitants) and I have been teaching English, with a short break during my maternity leave, for 8 years. I am originally Czech, I am 34, I have one daughter and I love being back in my hometown after many years of living in other countries and travelling/working around Europe. I spent a lot of time mainly in the US/the UK and Holland/Belgium. Apart from my mother tongue – Czech – I can speak English, Dutch and some French.

This is my 9th year of being a freelance ESL teacher and I couldn´t love my job more. I work both locally in Brno and online, via Skype and social media sites. I specialize in coaching others how to learn English without coursebooks, groups locally and individuals online.  I believe it is much more effective, and also more fun, to learn a language through socializing, communicating with each other and by doing things we like and do in our own language.

So in my local courses we learn by doing. You can for example learn how to cook an Indian meal  or we go to a bar with my American friend, who is a singer, and put together a blues song, we go shopping, watch and discuss movies and Ted talks… When I coach individual students I help them find the ways to stop being shy when speaking and motivate to listen, read and write for fun.

Sometimes I record the lessons, so if you go to my Youtube channel, you´ll see some of the lessons there. I also make grammar videos where I point the camera at myself and explain painful grammar issues and vocabulary in a simple way.

What gives me the greatest joy is building a community of students who feel language learning doesn´t belong to schools with desks and coursebooks. And helping someone realize they can aim high, set their goals and achieve them, that is the most rewarding moment for me.

 

2. Describe a typical work day in your life!

I start working around 9am and I usually don´t finish before midnight. In between there is quite a lot of role-switching, from online coach to blogger to social media expert to videomaker,  to in-class teacher, to event organizer and a mom. Most of the time I coach students online in the mornings and teach local group courses in the afternoons. Now more than ever, I seek some downtime and some social time for myself in my weekly schedule. It´s very important, otherwise I would go crazy.

 

3. In what way has technology in general and the net in particular changed your work?

It has changed my life completely. I used to work with coursebooks and cds, sometimes dvd-roms. Now everything´s on the internet. It´s so easy and mainly for free. I honestly don´t understand how some people can still be teaching from coursebooks. Hello! The world has changed, I feel like screaming sometimes… The whole world is on Facebook, all the answers to your questions are on Google, everyone´s blogging, making videos, sharing, creating. The past two years have turned education upside down, flipped it ;).

What an opportunity to help thousands of students and build your PLN (personal learning network) from the comfort of your home! Before my lessons were limited to those who could attend my courses locally, now everyone can learn with me through my videos,  my FB page/my blog and I am planning to build a videocourse in the near future where students can learn how to learn.

 

4. What challenges do you see for education in the future?

This is a question I am afraid to answer for myself. Because I am a bit pessimistic when it comes to my country and I have a child for whom I have to decide which road to také, very soon. And the options are not that great, sadly. In the majority of state and private schools, the child is still not considered a unique person, the teachers are still underpaid  and despite the neverending debates on how investing in education should be a priority there is still so little money being put into general education. It feels almost pointless to send my child to a school when I know she´s not going to learn things the way she needs to learn them.  Do we end up like the Greeks where everyone pays for the private teachers after school so that their kids could pass the exams?

 

5. Where can we find you online?

My website: englishbrno.cz/en/

My blog: englishbrno.cz/en/blog/

My public FB profile:facebook.com/Nina.EnglishBrno

My official FB fanpage: facebook.com/EnglishBrnoCZ

My Youtube channel: youtube.com/EnglishBrno

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About the author: LearnOutLive Interviews is an interview series in which we feature private teachers and education professionals from a variety of different fields in order to highlight individual efforts and creative solutions to education in the 21st century. If you want to participate simply write down and send your answers to these five questions to info {at} learnoutlive.com and include a picture of yourself. (Please note that we reserve the right to not publish all submissions)


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