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Teaching Online: The Future of Education?

So you want to teach? Wonderful! Welcome to a long line of wise, noble humans with a lineage dating back thousands of years.

In fact, one could argue that the art of teaching has changed little since the days of Socrates: one with knowledge imparts said knowledge to one desiring knowledge, seated nearby. This model survived the Dark Ages, The Reformation, The Industrial Revolution -- you get the picture.

But now we live in the information age. The internet is in the process of reorganizing information and accumulated knowledge on a scale never before dreamed of in human history.

So should teachers adapt? Of course they are already, but should they go all the way and prepare to teach... online? And if so, how?

Well there are a handful of things teachers can do today to prepare for a possible future in which most subjects are taught online.

1) Don't be a Luddite. Don't be afraid of technology. Embrace the change. The internet is ubiquitous and democratic enough to deflect most criticisms about its presence in our lives.

2) Get comfortable speaking into the camera. Teaching in front of a group of students is daring and difficult enough. Teaching to a camera lens and not being able to see the facial expressions of the hundreds of students dispersed around the world... well, that takes a little getting used to.

3) Think of ways to leverage additional technologies. We're still on page three of the forthcoming long, long story of web-based education. There are no real best practices. Those who enter the arena armed with ways to supplement the knowledge exchange will be well-positioned for the future. For example, how can traditional scholarship be used in the web-based classroom? How can YouTube? Wikipedia? What's the best content management system (CMS)? Is Blackboard helpful? Speak the language.

This is not a call to throw out all your chalk and pencil sharpeners. Merely a clarion singing the song of the future; one perhaps worth listening to.


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