Thursday, January 27, 2011

In or On Too Much?

At the cyber school that I work in, I go in one day a week to help the kids that come into our computer lab. Somehow that one day seems to expand itself to be the premise for my week, a week of work that, in most cases,  should seemingly end on Friday. Now that I'm back to only going in, onsite, one day a week, it seems as though my day is overloaded with requests from Project Managers, other Experts, students, and just about every other individual with whom I have an interaction.

With every interaction comes a new responsibility, a new request, some new proposal, and I come home from work and realize that I have just somehow agreed to be a part of, or involve myself in, several new tasks, proposals, items, projects, etc. 

I remember days of classroom teaching when going "in" soaked up a large portion of my life. All the hours of teaching, planning, contacting parents, grading, emails, along with a plethora of other tasks created a never-ending stream of responsibilities. Regardless of that stream, I would only turn my computer on at home after long days if I had something essential to complete, or for some planning/grading during the weekends. Generally, I tried to complete a lot of my work before I ever left school, so when I got home, I could just relax. I went in, and I came out.  I truly thought the world of online teaching would help to eliminate even more pressure from my life--providing ample amounts of time for relaxation. 

I have to say, overall, I much prefer my current job over my previous years of classroom teaching. Most of my work can be done from home; I'm on now, and I don't have to go in. I don't have parent/teacher conferences, open-houses, sporting events, dances, or any other "teacher duties" that need attending. 

Despite my flexibility, I find that I am always working every moment that I'm not attending to motherly duties. The only time where I separate myself from my computer is during those times. How can I possibly be "on" all the time? Why am I always working? Is it the nature of cyber school? Has it just become habit? Of course, as teachers, we know our jobs are never done (well, at least not until summer), but cyber school runs 365 days a year; we have no summers, we don't take breaks!

See that's the thing about being online, you can be online, all the time, at all times, regardless of any respect for time. Online just goes on and on and so on. 

When I go "in" to work that one day a week, it brings me "on" even more. So I wonder, is going "in" or "on" too much? Is one worse than the other? 


  1. I can empathize with much of what you've said here, Grace. I find that when I teach online classes, my tolerance for other online time (blogging, reading, etc.) diminishes. Screen time does seem to me to blur the line between home and work in ways that are not always desirable. I sometimes wonder what it would be like to have a job that, when I left the office, was not in any way present or connected to home. I admit to having a little bit of (naive?) nostalgia for a time when those boundaries were more clear cut than they have become in an age of constant, continuous connection, what Philip Agre has referred to as "the always-on world."

  2. Let me state outright that my experience doesn't hold a candle to yours. That being said, this notion of existing "on" is something I've given much thought to lately. Checking my online course or working on the web for any one of my three classes feels like an obsession over a to-do list that will never truly be done. To do an assignment requires navigating the open waters; there's the initial reading, the discussions, the project submissions, reading about readings, reading about how to utilize an application and its subsequent forums, comparing applications, social interactions, meaningless clicking around - you get the idea. For me being "on" means working without constraints, except they were supposed to be restricting of my activity in the first place. It's hard to get "off" because there's no end in sight. Just a sea of content.