Friday, June 15, 2012

Virtual Learning in K-12 Education

According to the Sloan Consortium, which monitors online education in K-12 schools in the United States, online learning is on the rise. According to their report, "the overall number of K-12 students engaged in online courses in 2007-2008, is estimated at 1,030,000. This represents a 47% increase since 2005-2006".
That's a big jump, by any standards, but hardly surprising. The internet has become a place to do many things but above all it remains the place where people turn for information. With ever-faster broadband available to more and more people and innovations in web technologies marching on, it's not longer just about looking up that information, as you would with a book. Static pages are old hat. With the interactive possibilities of Web 2.0 the possibilities for using the internet in innovative ways in education are multiplying exponentially.
That's great news for students everywhere. It's also great news for anyone with the knowledge to pass on their skills, by becoming an online tutor. Online tutor jobs are an ideal solution for educators of all kinds to help others and make a living (or supplement their existing income) in financially challenging times. As long as people want and need to learn, jobs for tutors will always be available.
If you're considering applying for online tutor jobs, the main requirements are excellent knowledge of your subject and the ability to communicate that knowledge effectively. But there's a bit more to it. Just because there are plenty of tutor jobs available doesn't mean you can just set up shop. Anyone considering applying for online tutoring jobs needs to get a grip on the medium and its potentials.
Online learning is obviously not quite the same as traditional teaching, even though tutors can interact with students in real time, perhaps using video. The first years of online education were based on replicating traditional, instructor-led teaching practices. Often learning was based on modules or educational packages that learners worked through in their own time, before hooking up with instructors for assessment, feedback and guidance.
With Web 2.0, e-learning is all about making the most of the interactive possibilities available. Its about learners using the possibilities that computers offer for simulating environments that permit practical learning. Online learning communities stimulate learning through participation, through webinars, forums and sharing of experiences. Computers offer ways of making learning engaging and fun. Some educational institutions have even set up virtual classrooms on Second Life!
If you are planning to get yourself online tutoring jobs, it's worth noting that the best tutors are those who understand how online learning works and how the internet has the capacity to enhance the educational experience. An online tutoring job isn't only about teaching others. For most online tutors it will be a learning process in itself, as technology changes teaching strategies and we learn more about how online learning can outstrip traditional pedagogical methods. One thing is for certain. Those who master the medium will tell you that online tutoring is a rewarding one.

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