Friday, April 03, 2015

My first experience teaching online - Database Programming using TSQL

Almost a year ago, I sent an email to the University of Washington Professional and Continuing Education program, asking if they were looking for instructors for their database certification. I heard nothing from them for about 3 months. Then during the summer while we were on vacation, I got an email basically offering me a job as an instructor, without an interview or anything.

I was thrilled, and wanted to write a really well-thought out letter, accepting their offer. So, I waited about 4 days until we came back from vacation, and sent my well-written email back. By that time, they had gone on to the next person on their list, and the position was no longer available. Ha-ha.

Life lesson - if you get an opportunity, jump on it!

After they told me the job was no longer available, I offered to be on their wait list, or available as a substitute. A few months later, the person who had originally accepted had to turn down the position, and it was offered to me again, and I accepted. So, it turned out well in the end.

I'm teaching this class 1 evening a week for 10 sessions, via Adobe Connect, an online presentation platform. I was nervous - more nervous than I thought I would be - leading up to the class, but now that I've done my first session, I feel much better about it, and hope to make my next session more engaging and interactive. The previous instructor did a 3 hour session, but I'm just doing one, with an online "office hours" another day of the week, to be available for questions.

I was considering a question - why do people take an online class like this? All the information is certainly out there, in books and online. Why pay almost $1000 for a class? Here's the reasons I came up with:

  • Accountability - there are homework assignments, and if you don't finish them on time, you won't pass the class.
  • Knowledge curation - yes, the information is out there. But there's a lot of it, and it can be very difficult to figure out what's important, and what's not. I provide a trusted source of knowledge.
  • Social interaction - this is a little lacking in online classes. There is a bit, since there's an online session that they MUST attend, and I try to address them all by name during the session. But it is mimimal.
  • Certification - They get a SQL Server Developers Certification from the University of Washington Professional and Continuing Education program. That will hopefully give them a leg up in job hunting, and of course, practical knowledge of SQL Server development.


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