Online Classes Were Already a Thing
May 24, 2021
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by Arabella Seebaluck

The world shut its doors in 2020 due to COVID. So did schools. This forced teachers, students and their parents into online classes. What some of you may, or may not know, is that for some people around the globe, this wasn’t a new thing.

In fact, digital nomads – not nomads with camels and Bedouin tents in Northern Africa – have been doing their online teaching thing for quite a while. They were a step ahead of all of us by the time the pandemic hit. Online classes, as it so happens, are among the most advertised activities which provide our trend-setting, globe-trotting teachers with their daily manna.

In fact, WikiJob – for want of a more authoritative source on the subject – lists ‘Virtual Teacher’ at number 9 of the top 10 of jobs for wandering workers. It is seconded by FluentU, which lists the teaching profession at number ten. ESL, read English as a Second Language, being the usual dispense for those teaching on-the-go.

Hear it from one of the horse’s mouths:

“Back in 2013 whilst living in Nepal, I discovered a niche market for online English teachers. Much to my delight, I was able to put my teaching profile on the website I’d found, wait for students to schedule a class with me, and pay my expenses in Nepal with only a few classes per week… My only qualifications were a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field and a TESOL certificate, which is painfully easy to obtain.

I’ve been teaching English online in varying capacities for 5 years now, and have lived in four different countries and spent time traveling in about 20 or 25 more.

In just the past year or two, we’ve witnessed extremely rapid growth and mainstreaming of the online English teaching industry and as it continues to expand, we’re seeing better and better pay and more job opportunities…”

Online classes demand meet supply

It appears as though supply is meeting demand, or vice-versa. Indeed, due to school closures and more people telecommuting, online classes are increasingly sought after.

“Whether it is language apps, virtual tutoring, video conferencing tools, or online learning software, there has been a significant surge in usage since COVID-19” a study by the World Economic Forum notes.

With this, add a windfall of people who have lost jobs or deciding to embrace a lifestyle change since the Covid outbreak. The sure-fire outcome is that more and more tutors and teachers will become available as the second, third and more waves of the pandemic hit some of the world’s largest nations.

Even though there are many constraints to successfully conducting classes where the internet penetration might not be sufficient, for example, there are solutions addressing these difficulties.

There are also other novel ideas, such as the Youschool app, which aim at recreating the classroom environment successfully, both for the teacher and the student. The idea behind this invention is precisely the enjoyment and bond created in classrooms, among peers. Creator Fredrik Jansson explains:

“Basically, Youschool is an online version of a classroom where there’s a teacher walking around to help students. They can interact online, click on the keyboard, demonstrate with their pen and paper and ask questions. The best way to learn, in my opinion, is by teaching others. So that’s what we are focusing on with the Youschool solution.”

Nomadic Teachers

Online classes are not only available from one’s traditional teacher from school, who has been forced to teach from home by a deadly virus. The virtual teachers have been around for a while and are an expanding percentage of the already-sprawling digital nomad community.

A study by MBO Partners in 2018, a year before the contagion began, states:

“The outlook for digital nomadism is quite positive. Continued improvements in mobile and cloud computing tools and technologies will lead to greater levels of remote work. An expanding number of specialized services and products are making it easier to become and operate as a digital nomad, and corporations large and small are expected to hire more remote workers—both independent and traditional—in the coming years.”

“Changing views towards work will also help drive the digital nomad trend. People are looking for more work/life balance, and are increasingly valuing experiences, especially travel. At the same time, companies are recognizing the need to offer greater levels of work flexibility to attract, retain, and engage employees.”

Although this applies to the U.S. in this precise instance, the idea that this could expand to the wider world is now a matter of fact, with the sanitary situation having entirely reshaped the global world market, and so, for the foreseeable future.

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