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 interview on youtube

 

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

My name is Sylvia. I’m an English teacher who works online. I have a degree in English literature, a teaching diploma and almost twenty years experience in the field. Most of my teaching career has been in Greece but I’ve also worked in schools in Ireland in primary, secondary schools and language schools. I also teach English to my bilingual children in my free time.

As an online teacher I teach one –to –one on skype and have larger groups on the teaching platform WizIQ.

I’m also involved in materials development, writing and blogging.

 

2. Describe a typical work day in your life.

I get up at 7am and prepare my children for school. Then I walk for about 45 minutes along the sea shore for my daily exercise and to mentally prepare for the day ahead. When I get back home, I work online till lunchtime, when my children get back from school. My morning work includes a mixture of teaching, writing, content creation and blogging. I have recently been organizing courses on my learning management system in order to implement more asynchronous teaching programmes and easier tracking of groups.
Most of my lessons tend to occur in the later evening or night time hours.

I set aside three hours a day to teach my children, from about four to seven. This is our quality time when we have lessons, tell stories, do art, cook or anything that’s creative, fun and builds on their bilingual education.

In the evening I may teach for a couple of hours before they go to bed and at 10pm when they are asleep. My my group classes consist mostly of professionals from Athens who work all day, so these night classes have become something of a habit.

My greatest challenge in teaching online is co-ordinating time zones of students with the needs of my family. I’d like to do business in Japan which would suit my morning hours for teaching.

 

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

Technology has completely changed the way I work. When I first started teaching, the only technology we had was a cassette player. Moving my work online has enabled me to develop professionally in ways that I couldn’t have offline. It’s very empowering for me to have access to publishing and multi-media tools. I have found that my love of writing & content creation is competing with my love of teaching. This is something I didn’t develop offline, as the old establishment was dominated by large publishing giants. The creativity of a teacher was less recognized as everything happened behind the classroom walls. Now, whatever one creates can be published and shared all over the internet.

Another major impact on my teaching life has been my personal learning network which serves to validate my work, encourage further experimentation, enable community building, sharing, brain-storming and collaborating. One such community is LearnOutLive where I have been invited to post this article, where I also teach, blog and collaborate.

Of course, the whole reason I decided to teach online was to stay at home and be near my children, so the convenience of reaching out to global students from home goes without saying.

 

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

When I think of future educational challenges I see state schools all over Europe and the world at large that need help in embracing digital generations and blended learning.

Online teaching should not be just for adults or business people. There are many schools with the most up-to –date technology that do not have the experience or know-how to utilise their own resources. Language labs are gathering dust around Europe whilst children are deprived of opportunites to make cartoons, blog, record their voices and many other cute, creative, language building games and projects.

In Europe, it’s the irony of having an abundance of tools, but too much bureaucracy to give teachers the creative freedom to use them. It’s a bit like food mountains in Europe where an abundance of food is produced but where EU regulations prevent distribution.

In other parts of the world there is a hunger for communication with native speakers of foreign languages. Language schools are deprived of authentic language input or communication with native speakers. I see wonderful future possibilities where state schools and governments, or even private schools can liaise with Edupreneurs to bring teachers into their classrooms. Seasoned Edupreneurs can also train local educators in how to use the internet for enhanced learning outcomes. The prospects are exciting and those of us on the cutting edge of education are doing the testing and experimentation necessary to provide sound training services to others.

The challenge lies in making such opportunites available to learners and teachers everywhere.

 

5. Where can we find you online?

My blog: salis.gr/wordpress

My teacher’s profile on WiZiQ: wiziq.com/Sylvia

My Twitter: twitter.com/silversal

My Facebook group: facebook.com/groups/sylviaonline

-