An hour ago I was in the lab of a Brazilian pathologist discussing the results of his most recent experiment. Before that I was speaking with a Saudi Arabian student as he lounged on an upholstered cushion placed on the living room floor. Later tonight, I'll be in an office overlooking the most popular street in Gangnam, as I chat with a South Korean software engineer as he begins his day -- 14 hours ahead of me. In just one day I'll have traveled to three countries, all without leaving my chair.
Two years ago I launched teacherdiane.com, my own website teaching English on Skype, and since that time, my life has undergone a dramatic change. My classroom has been replaced by a computer and my home, a backpack.
As I write this, I am in a small cottage in Maine, just 10 minutes from a ski resort. This afternoon I'll go skiing before I return to work. Over the past two years I've learned Spanish in South America, eaten my way through Asia and spent some time housesitting in Europe, all while working full-time. Working online has enabled me to be completely location independent and to continually satisfy my lifelong love of travel.
The Internet has become so ingrained into my life that it's hard to remember a time when it didn't exist. What did I do first thing in the morning if it wasn't checking my email? How did I communicate with people located in different countries before communication tools like Skype?
Initially I was hesitant to try teaching online. One of the reasons I chose education as a profession is the meaningful connection forged between teachers and students, a connection that I assumed could only come from a classroom setting.
Persuaded by a former student to give it a try, I soon realized the possibilities of teaching online. I could use a graphics tablet and screen-sharing technology to mimic a classroom white board. I could quickly share images, files and links to informative websites. Together, my students and I could watch videos, read and discuss articles, and even play games. I could record lessons and send them to students to review afterwards. I could correct students immediately using the Skype chat feature and review our chat history at the end of each lesson or the beginning of our next one. Not to mention I could do all of this from the comfort of my own home.
In a short time, I found teaching English on Skype became even better than teaching in person. Students who had struggled in the past to find locals to practice their English with also quickly fell in love with the concept: Within a year, I had so much demand for lessons that I had to bring on other teachers to assist me.
Now I am able to reach students not just in my 20-mile radius, but almost everywhere in the world with an Internet connection. Over the past two years, I have taught students from over 20 different countries and reached students in many more. With the help of video sharing platforms and social networks, I can reach students in a matter of minutes and create resources that will be forever available online.
Years ago, the idea of communicating directly with people all over the world while sitting behind a computer screen was confined to our imagination. The thought of having a job that was not limited by location was unfathomable. But now, when people ask me where I see myself in the future, I tell them, quite literally, anywhere and everywhere. My options are endless.
Collaboration and technology are at the core of creativity. With Skype, you can call, see, message and share with those who inspire you. Skype can be used for so much more than the occasional long-distance call. Click here to download the Skype app now and explore all the amazing things you can do with Skype, every single day.
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