Education

Teleworking and Online Learning: A Comparison

By Katie Ash — September 22, 2008 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A few months ago, I wrote a post in another edweek.org blog called Motivation Matters about the pros and cons of online classes. This growing trend is something my co-blogger Andrew has written quite a bit about, and something we’re both keeping our eyes on as the number of students taking online classes increases.

But recently I’ve had an experience that I think gives me a little more insight into the world of online learning. This summer, I moved from my home in the Washington area to Portland, Ore., and in the process my work environment has changed from a bustling newsroom full of colleagues to one computer in the basement of a house where I am the only one working. While teleworking definitely has its perks (my commute consists of a 30-second walk down the hallway), there are inevitably some things I miss about being in an office.

Just like online classes, teleworking means giving up daily interactions with people who are working in the same niche as I am. Not seeing them every day makes it harder to collaborate on stories, and I don’t have the advantage of easily bouncing ideas off other reporters or getting someone else’s perspective on whatever I’m writing. On the other hand, e-mail makes it possible to ask questions and get feedback fairly quickly, and I don’t feel particularly cut off from the resources and expertise of my colleagues.

Overall, teleworking has given me the opportunity to pursue certain life goals without having to choose between those and my career, which I do not think would have been possible 15, or even ten, years ago. I imagine there are similar reasons behind many students’ decisions to enroll in online classes. Learning online gives students greater flexibility in what classes they can take, when they can take them, and where they have to be in order to take them. I do think there’s something to be said for a classroom environment where discussions between teachers and students can generate new ideas and help prevent confusion, but the situation I find myself in now is helping me to see that through e-mail, telephones, and the Internet, those interactions can still take place, albeit in a somewhat more formal and less off-the-cuff kind of way.

Still, I do wonder how difficult it would be to learn something completely new entirely through the Internet, especially for those students who are visual or auditory learners (although I suppose video streaming could help with that.) I also wonder about the amount of self-discipline and maturity needed to stay on task without a teacher or mentor actively watching and encouraging progress. I’m sure that educators and students alike share these concerns, and as online learning continues to grow--because I don’t see this trend slowing down--we’ll have to see how these and many other questions will be answered.

What is your take on online learning? What are the benefits and drawbacks? What experiences have you had taking or teaching Web-based classes?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Trauma-Informed Practices & the Construction of the Deep Reading Brain
Join Ryan Lee-James, Ph.D. CCC-SLP, director of the Rollins Center for Language and Literacy, with Renée Boynton-Jarrett, MD, ScD., Vital Village Community Engagement Network; Neena McConnico, Ph.D, LMHC, Child Witness to Violence Project; and Sondra
Content provided by Rollins Center

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Hundreds of Conn. Bus Drivers Threaten to Walk Off the Job Over Vaccine Mandate
More than 200 school bus drivers could walk off the job in response to a vaccination mandate that goes into effect Monday.
1 min read
Rows of school buses are parked at their terminal, in Zelienople, Pa. Reopening schools during the coronavirus pandemic means putting children on school buses, and districts are working on plans to limit the risk.
Rows of school buses are parked at their terminal, in Zelienople, Pa. Reopening schools during the coronavirus pandemic means putting children on school buses, and districts are working on plans to limit the risk. <br/>
Keith Srakocic/AP Photo
Education Briefly Stated: September 22, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)