Last Friday, we had a shoot at the Florida Virtual School. It was for the same project we did last year, a video of their Teacher of the Year – a video they’ll submit to the Florida Department of Education so their candidate can be considered for higher honors.
The video is straightforward enough to shoot and edit, but the goal of the project itself presents a challenge. Why? Well, because this professional educator works remotely with her phone and computer, and she’ll be competing with teachers whose videos show them teaching the way most of us expect: standing up in front of a classroom full of students. Other candidates can easily show their personal connection with students in their videos, because they’re right there in the classroom personally connecting with them.
Virtual education is different. These men and women work just as hard to reach their students, they’re just using different tools.
I’d wager that most of the people who will be voting on the Florida Teacher of the Year in 2014 are career educators and administrators who have even less experience with virtual classrooms and distance learning than I do (the Internet was just becoming a thing as I was wrapping up college) and they’re not likely to look sympathetically at teachers who do their jobs so differently than the way they know.
I have my own reservations about online education, but those reservations are based on my own experiences and what I brought with me to my own time at school. The truth of the matter is that entire generations have now been raised on computers and their experiences are different from mine. These kids have been plugged in since before they could walk – they’re getting an online education whether their parents signed them up for one or not. And in any event, the statistics on just how effective these distance learning programs can be should speak louder than our own prejudices.
As for our team over here at Odyssey Creative, we’ll be editing the video this week for the Florida Virtual School’s 2014 Teacher of the Year. And we’ll keep our fingers crossed that each year their process gains more credibility. Online educators may not have the full endorsement of their traditional classroom colleagues just yet, but they’re all working in the same noble profession. Education is a collaborative process. That means teachers need to use whatever tools work the best for their students – and the technology tide is turning.