The Online College Instructor
Navigating the Virtual College Classroom

No More 24/7!

Teaching online offers all sorts of benefits; the most enjoyable one is not having to get dressed to go to class and possibly deal with icy roads, annoying detours, and equally annoying drivers.  Aside from the obvious downside to online teaching of not meeting face-to-face with my students, about a year ago, I realized a major disadvantage to online teaching – working almost 24/7.

Getting up at 5:00am and putting together a new lecture isn’t all that terrible, especially when that creative urge strikes and my fingers fly over the keyboard.  That’s worth it because once I finish that new lecture, I have an entire day ahead of me to do what I want.  However, leaving my computer on for that momentary urge to record something that turns into five hours of web surfing, playing with new programs, etc., can begin to detract from my overall enjoyment of life.

Being diligent and current in any field is, of course, desirable, but when I’m more concerned with work than life in general or I can’t seem to avoid checking emails every hour, then all that diligence and expertise become a burden, not to mention a headache.

Solution:  Shut off the computer when not in use and only check emails twice a day.  Shutting down my computer not only keeps me away from hours of unnecessary surfing and “playing” but saves energy.  According to a 2008 post on Pays to Live Green, leaving on a desktop computer 24/7 costs $126 a year and uses over 1,000 Watts over the course of one a year.  Aside from the cost and energy savings, walking away from my computer getsme back into the real world and even gets me to go take a walk or get some other type of exercise.

Checking emails twice a day  – once in the morning; then around 4:00pm – is sufficient.  I do check emails seven days a week because most of my students are adult learners, who don’t get a chance to deal with coursework until the weekend, but I don’t do anything more than keep on top of my emails on weekends.  I don’t create new webpages, develop new lectures, grade papers, or otherwise use my weekends to work.  I’m a full time professor, so I complete my work during the week.

Since setting up computer-use restrictions on myself for about a year now, I find I work more efficiently during the week and actually have time to do things I enjoy, such as writing for my blogs.

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