Amy’s favorite part of taking classes online was the fact that she could take a break from studying to care for her newborn whenever she wanted. She could feed her baby, put her down for a nap, care for her other two children, and then go back to class while sitting in the comfort of her own living room. She also felt she had the upper hand when learning the material because, unlike students who attend class everyday, Amy felt she was better able to concentrate at home and studied harder because she could take frequent breaks. And, she said, “I think I learned the material better because I was wholly dependent upon myself to learn the info.”

Amy began her education in a traditional university setting, but after she moved from Utah to California with her husband, she decided to finish her degree, her Ph.D., online. She is now an online professor and teaches Media and Society and Media Issues in American Pop Culture, and she believes her students benefit from the same things she did.

The major benefit, she said, “is flexibility.” Amy allows her students to turn in assignments up until 4 a.m. in the morning on the day they’re due. “I’m a late-nighter, so I thought some students would appreciate it. One student specifically said the 4 a.m. time was a plus with his schedule, because he works all day,” she said.

Amy teaches between 20 and 30 students in each of her classes, and although many of them are in their early 20’s, she does have some non-traditional students. One of them is a man who is a 53-year-old chef who went back to school to get a degree in nutrition.

Amy uses online teaching programs such as Blackboard, which she says her students have to learn in order to participate in class discussions. She also communicates with her students via e-mail. Many professors like Amy give out their telephone numbers in case of a “class emergency” or for difficult questions that can’t be addressed via e-mail. Amy loves teaching online for the same reasons she loved taking classes online: “I do my teaching and grading while my kids are asleep or at school. Right now, they’re 7, 5 and 5 months, so they’re pretty dependent on me,” she said.

Amy found her teaching job by answering a mass e-mail sent out by the dean of the school she teaches for. “So far, I have really enjoyed my classes,” said Amy. “It’s really interesting to hear their opinions of reality TV shows, Playboy magazine, [and] Britney Spears…to name a few. They definitely don’t hold back their opinions!”

Amy doesn’t let her students miss out on a classroom community either. “The community feel is there with my emphasis on posting on the discussion board. They are required to post two original comments and two responses per week,” she said.

About the author

Cara Wieser has a Master’s degree in journalism and communication. She has taught many university classes and has been published in numerous newspapers, magazines and online publications, as well as read on the radio. She enjoys riding her horses and curling up to a fire with a good book (who doesn’t enjoy this!).

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