Last year a commercial about a businessman who works with his customers both virtually and face-to-face across America got me thinking. The commercial’s salesman said he worked from a place called something like “Newcaliwisdakota”. According to the ad, he needed a network that kept up with the demands of his job. This network was the product being hawked in the commercial.
What does this commercial have to do with online teaching?
The state of “Newcaliwisdakota.”
We who teach online are the virtually-nomadic, 21st century version of the traveling salesman. This year, for instance, I will have lived physically in Washington State and Virginia while teaching virtually to students enrolled in the University of San Diego (California), the University of Wisconsin-Stout (Wisconsin), and Walla Walla Community College (Washington). An my students are scattered throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
The reach of online learning is global, and yet my students are as close and “real” to me as any I’ve taught face-to-face. The classroom interactions are as diverse and as meaningful. And the exchange of ideas has been equal to and often surpass the traditional classes I’ve taught due directly to the asynchronous environment in which the course takes place. But I still don’t have an easy answer to the question of where I work?
I suppose I could always say “my office” or “my living room” – but that doesn’t really represent this rich environment of “everywhere” all at once online. So I think I will take a page from the commercial and give my work place a name: “Virgiwiscaliwa.”
Where do you work?