When I quit my teaching job more than ten years ago to strike out on my own as an online language teacher, I was met with stares of consternation. Old acquaintances warned me of the perils of pennilessness and urged me to re-enlist in the federal education system. Online learning? Why, that’s just a fad, young whippersnapper …
But I had seen enough disillusioned teachers and underfunded schools for a lifetime.
So I handed in my notice and ventured forth, equipped only with a ragtag skillset of self-taught coding and a dream of a new streamlined way of learning and teaching.
Within a few months I was holding classes online from morning until evening. The proof was in the pudding. I had students from all over the world, both kids and adults. They made significant progress and kept coming back for more. Learning online was both intimate and liberating, highly focused and time-efficient.
This was all before the total proliferation of smart phones and social media, mind you, before increasingly organized astroturfing and political propagandizing gave the online world a bitter aftertaste.
The Online Learning Revival Of 2020
My point is that the possibility of learning online effectively has been with us for more than a decade! It’s not exactly novel. So it’s somewhat amusing to now see educators and education ministries all over the world stumbling into all of this completely unprepared due to the pandemic. Unfortunately online learning is still an alien concept to so many people.
And sure, remote learning will never be the be-all and end-all to all educational needs. But it turns out that when faced with the option of learning/teaching online instead of nowhere at all, people are suddenly surprisingly open to the idea.
Personally, in an effort to make the most of this lockdown, I’ve been joining a number of new online seminars and lectures over the past few weeks (Zooms, Livestreams and AltspaceVR meetings), and while some teachers initially had called online meetings into existence as a replacement for now defunct physical venues, many of them have expressed plans to continue these types of meetings even after the pandemic would be over, especially after seeing participants’ positive responses.
In other words, we’re experiencing a sort of revival of online learning in these strange times. And the biggest breakthroughs aren’t necessarily happening in institutions which are sometimes too entrenched in the status quo, but it’s individual teachers’ private initiatives setting up livestreams and online meetups that often feel most genuine and rewarding.
So in the spirit of all of this I’d like to share some resources today for everyone interested in expanding their own online learning and teaching efforts.
How To Start An Online Book Club
I often receive emails from people who read my German learning books together in small groups meeting in cafés, libraries etc. Many of these venues have now closed due to the virus, but that doesn’t mean that your learning group can’t continue online. I’ve briefly outlined here how you can move your book club or study group online without skipping a beat.
LearnOutLive Online Teachers Directory
If you’re looking to use the extra time at home to work on your German skills with a tutor, take piano lessons or brush up on your organic chemistry, the LearnOutLive teachers directory lists hundreds of independent online teachers and tutors from all over world. If you’re a teacher yourself, feel free to add a link to your own website! You can also answer our short interview and get featured on the blog.
How To Teach Online Without Selling Your Soul
In 2012 I released a book in which I collected everything I had learned while setting up my online teaching business. While some of the technical details are admittedly outdated now, much of the general advice still applies and you can download the book for free here if you like.