fbpx
#136: How to Navigate a Career Change in Online Education

#136: How to Navigate a Career Change in Online Education

This post initially appeared at https://apuedge.com/how-to-navigate-a-career-change-in-online-education/.

Podcast with Dr. Bethanie L. HansenAssociate Dean (interim), School of Arts, Humanities and Education

Is it time for you to change jobs or start a new career? In this episode, Dr. Bethanie Hansen shares tips to help with the transition. Learn why it’s important to craft a strong narrative about your career, build a strong network and be prepared to negotiate.

Listen to the Episode:

Subscribe to Online Teaching Lounge
Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | Pandora

Read the Transcript:

Dr. Bethanie Hansen: This podcast is for educators, academics and parents who know that online teaching can be challenging, but it can also be rewarding, engaging and fun! Welcome to the Online Teaching Lounge. I’m your host, Dr. Bethanie Hansen, and I’ll be your guide for online teaching tips, topics and strategies. Walk with me into the Online Teaching Lounge.

Welcome to the Online Teaching Lounge. This is Bethanie Hansen, your host, and I’m really happy to talk with you today about the potential for changing careers in your online teaching journey. Now, a career change could be a minor thing. It could be, you’re just changing jobs, perhaps you work at one school, and you’d like to work at another. Or maybe the career change is actually in a new direction. Perhaps you’ve been teaching in a face-to-face classroom, and then you’ve had an adjunct role teaching one class at a time online, but maybe you want to just expand that.

Maybe you want to go full time in an online capacity. That does feel like quite a bit of a change, doesn’t it? Maybe you want to leave teaching altogether and go into higher education leadership, or educational administration in the K-12 system. Perhaps you’re leaving the standard classroom and you’re becoming a virtual coach, trainer or consultant.

Whatever type of career change you are contemplating, changing careers can be a challenge. I have changed careers myself several times. And these changes have been interesting, they have been difficult, and in my experience, they have also involved a little bit of identity consideration. For example, when I made my first career change, I was leaving a role of, where I thought, I was a band director.

My job title was band teacher. But we in the band-directing field, when we’re running the entire program, we’re doing a lot of fundraising, we have parent groups and all of those things along the way, we would call that more of band director role versus just teaching. So, I was leaving this role of being a band director, and becoming a 100% online teacher in higher education. That role change involved an identity shift in my mind. I had to stop calling myself a band director, and I had to stop referring to myself as a band director. And a lot of people who knew me did not understand what online teaching was all about, or what I did for a living.

In fact, they kind of didn’t ask about it at all once I told them what I was doing, because they just didn’t understand it. They didn’t relate to that. Now that online education has been around a while, and it has developed into something that is spoken of in the general population, the general public, a career in online education is not as far of a reach if you’re telling someone else about it. Either way, I’m going to give you some steps today that will help you out if you’re thinking about changing careers, either into or out of online education.

Considerations When You’re Changing Careers

The first thing to consider when you’re changing careers is your narrative. The narrative of your career change is really the story behind that career change. One place where we tell that story is a profile network like LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a virtual platform where you have almost a virtual version of a resume. You have a space where you have some paragraphs that summarize who you are, what you’re all about. You also have your jobs listed, what some of the key things were you did in those jobs, what dates they were, where you worked. And you can also provide links to any articles you’ve written, presentations you’ve made, podcasts you’ve hosted, and more. You can add a lot of those things and share them with a network of people that you’re hoping to connect with more fully.

LinkedIn does have jobs posted, and many companies are doing this now, many educational entities also are. So, when you post yourself on LinkedIn, and you really work on your story behind your career change there, and the story of where you’re headed, this can be a helpful place to go.

Develop a Narrative about Your Career Change

One thing to think about in your narrative is why you’re changing careers. You can say it succinctly and diplomatically. That story of why you’re changing careers really never includes the negative judgments you might have made about a prior boss or a prior situation or employer. When you’re telling this story, succinctly and diplomatically as I mentioned, one thing would be to talk about the direction you are growing. The experiences you’ve had in the past and how you’ve learned from them, and now you’re pivoting in a new direction. And what some of those common threads are.

In literature, we call that the “red thread” of your story. So, in my band-directing career, I was helping people grow and develop and transform into adulthood. They were learning musical skills, leadership skills, self-management, all kinds of things. And as I moved into higher education, I was still working on those very same core things. And in my part-time coaching work with people, I also work on helping them develop and change and transform in their direction. So, that thread for me is very consistent, even though the subject matter or the way I played it out has changed over time.

Another thing that you can include in your narrative of your career change would be what transformative skills you bring that are relevant to a new role you’re seeking. For example, if you have primarily taught face to face, and you’re actually just hoping to move into full time online work, you can talk about all of the different methods you have used to communicate with your stakeholders in that face-to-face environment.

If you have led, or attended or developed webinars for people, or presented live, synchronous classes through a virtual mode, like Zoom or something like that, those would be skills that you can bring that are relevant to the new role you’re seeking of being online.

And then, of course, there are past paid and unpaid experiences that might directly relate to the new role you’re hoping to get. And you can talk about those, write about those, list them on your LinkedIn profile and on your resume, and include those in your narrative.

What are the Positive Aspects of Your Career Change?

Something else to consider is how change is positive for you and your fulfillment. In the direction you’re hoping to go, think about what positive aspects of that change will bring into your life. What is good about that change? What are the benefits you’re seeking and hoping for? And how have you been preparing for those very benefits and positives, and seeking them out now and not just waiting for the future change?

For example, if one of the reasons you want to teach online 100% of the time is that you love to travel and you love the flexibility, you could be thinking about how you’ve already been using some flexibility in your current work schedule to fulfill your travel desires, and not just how you’re waiting for the future to play out. So, how is the change is going to be positive for you, and how are you already seeking it and getting some of that?

Omit Details that Don’t Contribute to Your New Direction

Leave out extra details that don’t help you in the direction you’re trying to go. I’ve seen some people write 50-page vitas or resumes that document every job they’ve ever had, every class they’ve ever taught, everywhere they’ve ever been. And a new employer hoping to hire you doesn’t know how to navigate that narrative on their own. So, include the things that tell the story that is important for your career change, and summarize those things that are not, or leave them out altogether. It’s okay to not include every single job you’ve ever had. But you definitely want to include the ones that are relevant and that do pave the way for the direction you’re headed.

You can think about this as a story arc. There’s a beginning, a middle and an end to your professional story. And the way you introduce it could be something that you’ve done or thought about or learned about or experienced in your life that ignited your passion for where you’re headed right now. And places along the way where you got a little bit more experience or insight or direction. And, in the future, you’re going to have that good resolution of being able to fulfill that direction you’re hoping to go.

I would like to recommend also imagining beyond open opportunities. The world we live in has a lot of career options available that are literally invented around a candidate. Not every job exists right now that you could be qualified for, and it’s possible you’ll be able to negotiate something that will build your dream job in the future.

So, that first part of changing careers is to think about the narrative and the story that you’re telling about your professional direction and your past, and all the skills you’re bringing with you. The second tip today about navigating your online career change is to build a network.

Build a Strong Network

Networking is sort of a buzzword in job seeking. Networking is connecting with other people and offering them something while you’re gaining something from them as well. It’s sort of like mutual relationship building. If you have an opportunity to connect with people in your field, you can always ask for advice and receive advice and give advice. It builds trust with other people when you share what you know and what you think, within reason.

Realize what you don’t know. Think about that future online job or that future job away from online, if that’s the direction you’re moving, and what role you would like to fill, what functions it might include and the industry in which that role takes place. And when you realize what you don’t know about that, now you have some questions to ask others.

Learn about how you can fill those knowledge gaps. Are you going to learn something through an online class or workshop? Will you go to a conference or join an organization? Whatever direction you go, you want to dive in. Really get to know people in that space and participate fully so those knowledge gaps will get filled. And you’ll build a new network along the way.

You can explore what the new role would really ask of you day in and day out, and that can happen by talking to those people in the industry, or in the role, and develop your narrative skills. You’ll be talking a lot when you try to build your network. And you’ll talk about where you’ve been, why you want to change, what you’re working on right now to move you in that new direction. And you’ll build a lot of opportunity to talk about your story, your career-change story.

Get Specific about What You Want to Do in Your Career Change

The third tip for navigating your career change will be to narrow, get specific about what you really want to do. For example, at one time, I was thinking about how I did a lot of recruiting and retention as a band director, and in online education, as a leader, we talk a lot about recruiting and retention, so I’m thinking about it a lot.

And in the future where I want to continue to support, strengthen, and develop educators, I would say something like, “I’m looking to do teacher retention work in higher education. I’m going to draw on my skills in coaching, managing and leading others. And the wellbeing training I gained as a coach to help manage and lead online faculty forward in better ways. I want to help people stay in this profession. And I want people to grow in this profession, so I’m prepared to do that.”

So, if I’m getting super specific about what I want to do, I would be saying that I’m looking to do teacher retention work in higher education. And I can give all those details that I just mentioned along the way.

Be Prepared to Negotiate and Compromise

The fourth step in your career change story would be to negotiate. You might have to compromise to achieve the career direction change that you want. If it’s a big change, that might mean accepting a lower salary than the current role you’re filling, until you’re able to gain new skills and move back up. You might lose seniority that you have in your current organization. You might also lose some of the flexibility you currently like. And, especially, if you’re working online right now and you’re moving into a not online position, definitely the flexibility will be something to be thinking about.

Or maybe there are other perks. Perhaps your employer supports you attending conferences and doing a lot of travel, and you won’t be able to do that in the future. That’s a perk you might lose. You can’t keep all the same benefits and perks if you’re changing industries, making a major change, like from K-12 education to higher education or from the higher education to the business industry, or something like that. You won’t have the tested skills that someone who’s been in that field their entire career has.

So, you will need to be a little bit more realistic about the value you’re going to create early in the path, as well as your potential to grow and develop and eventually demonstrate solid skills as an expert in that direction. Can you set aside money now, to make up the difference if you have to have a salary reduction? Can you move up to regain the title and direction you’re going in right now eventually in the new direction? Are there some perks you can let go of right now that you can live without for the rest of your career? Or can you get these perks some other way? Is there something else that will lead to what you want?

If you cannot make that career change right now, anything that you can do to change your existing role to enhance it or bring in more of what you’re looking for, will help you through the process of job crafting. Or you may also be able to gain more fulfillment from hobbies, a side gig, or some volunteer work.

If you’re really intentional about your career change, a thoughtful planning period and a lot of research and some careful narrative crafting of your actual experience, as well as building your network and being realistic about a potential change will bring you the most fulfillment. It’s going to bring you more purpose, and better engagement throughout the process.

I’ve been through several career changes myself, and I know you can have a really positive outcome when you put the time in that it takes to be diligent in your efforts and also think about where you really want to go. I wish you all the best in that pursuit, it can be a tough one. But, again, you can find that fulfillment throughout the future, as you are looking for what you really want, and doing the work it takes to make that change and get there.

And, ultimately, as I’ve said before, if you’re not able to make that change right now, you can consider job crafting your current role, or gaining additional fulfillment from outside activities. Thanks for being here in the Online Teaching Lounge today as we’re talking about navigating an online career change. And I wish you all the best in the next step on that journey, if that’s where you’re headed.

This is Dr. Bethanie Hansen, your host for the Online Teaching Lounge Podcast. To share comments and requests for future episodes, please visit BethanieHansen.com/request. Best wishes this coming week in your online teaching journey.

#55: Work-Life Balance (Part 2 of 3): Creating Guidance Assets

#55: Work-Life Balance (Part 2 of 3): Creating Guidance Assets

This content was first provided at APUEdge.com. 

Online educators often get overwhelmed by the endless tasks they need to complete like answering students’ questions, posting announcements, grading papers, and engaging in forum discussions. In this episode, APU Faculty Director Dr. Bethanie Hansen talks about the benefits of creating guidance assets to help students self-manage and set expectations, while also helping online teachers manage their high workload. Learn about creating guidance assets like screencasts, video introductions, course announcements, netiquette guides, example assignments and more.

Listen to the Episode:

 

Subscribe to Online Teaching Lounge
Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | Pandora

Read the Transcript:

Dr. Bethanie Hansen: This podcast is for educators, academics and parents who know that online teaching can be challenging, but it can also be rewarding, engaging, and fun. Welcome to the Online Teaching Lounge. I’m your host, Dr. Bethanie Hansen, and I’ll be your guide for online teaching tips, topics and strategies. Walk with me into the Online Teaching Lounge.

Welcome to the Online Teaching Lounge podcast. I’m Dr. Dr. Bethanie Hansen, and I’m pleased to be with you today. Thank you for joining me to talk about work-life balance. This is particularly important because we’re talking about a profession in which we have a lot of work, unlimited possibilities electronically, and often high expectations.

There are growing numbers of online tools that we can look at. We can engage through text, audio, video, multimedia components, apps, you name it. And of course, there’s the learning management system, which can be attractive and overwhelming.

Any way you look at it, teaching online can be a very involved endeavor. So if you’re working online or teaching online right now, chances are that you have considered your work-life balance, and how to keep all of this under control.

As you think about online institutions, moving online, or you teaching online particularly, we think a lot about whether you’re creating the course, or it’s a standardized course you’re going to teach, that somebody else wrote. This can make a huge difference.

If you’re having to create the course, you have a lot of work ahead of you, and it’s best to do that work before you start teaching it. If you’re teaching and creating it at the same time, because maybe you’re in an emergency transition period, you don’t have a choice. You have to figure out how to manage that workload, and keep it efficient and moving forward.

Now, either way, we want quality in the delivery of the course, but we also want to connect with students. The best way to have a good experience teaching online is to have students who want to learn online, and who want to be there with you. You can experience a really high level of intensification.

This is a chronic sense of work overload, over time, and this idea of de-skilling, which is reducing the quality of your instruction into separate steps like grading, posting things, et cetera. And these can feel unrelated to the big picture of teaching your students. Either one of these situations can lead to burnout and poor work-life balance very quickly.

As you’re thinking about all the tasks that you have to do as online educator, I want to help you out today, in giving you strategies to increase quality of life, and work-life balance overall. We want to give you the strength to get through high levels of work, and also meet your students where they’re at, so they enjoy learning from you.

Today, I hope these strategies will encourage you, and help you to better manage your students’ needs, and also give you more abilities to set boundaries that will enhance your focus. When you try out what we’re going to talk about today, you might actually need to stretch outside your comfort zone just a little, and try something new, in order to be more efficient or more effective.

But if you’re willing to do these things and just give them a try, I think they’ll help you whittle things down into a more manageable task and more manageable workload overall. And I think you’ll find that they’re worth the effort, as you go through your career goals, and the goals you have for teaching this particular class that you’re teaching right now.

Let’s look at your increased level of work-life balance by doing one thing as a high priority item. And that one thing today is producing assets that guide students in self-management.

Assets to Help Students with Self-Management

When you think about the most important and most pressing things you do as an online educator, this probably is not at the top of your list. For some of you, I know you think about preventative steps you can take early on to help students with their success.

But a lot of times, we’re putting out fires when we’re teaching online. We’re getting messages, we’re getting questions, we have a lot of engagement we need to follow-up on, and we need to grade things. And we need to do all of this in a pretty timely manner.

That can feel like we’re just running from one task to the next, doing that de-skilling I mentioned before. Thinking about creating things that are a bigger picture, that are going to prevent things in the future, might feel like it’s really out of our reach, because we are just putting out those fires every day.

If you create these guidance assets to help your students navigate around your classroom and know the communication expectations, it’s going to add a whole lot to lowering your stress and helping you manage your workload.

How Can You Proactively Address Student Questions All At Once?

Think about how you can anticipate the needs and proactively address questions that your students have. You can minimize the individual guidance you might have to give every single student once the course starts by giving these strategies to all of the students upfront, before the challenges ever hit.

There was a study in which it was suggested that adults will rise or sink to the level of responsibility we expect of them, a key premise of andragogy, and the assumptions we have about adult learners.

If you use strategies that support your students’ learning, and also give them ways to become self-sufficient, we call this self-efficacy, when they’re doing it, this is going to help you engage your students better, while you allow yourself to balance your tasks and your time more effectively.

There was a suggestion in another study about workload reduction. It starts with anticipating and proactively addressing what your learners’ questions are and what their problem areas might be.

So think about the class you’re currently teaching, and if you were to just start right now, looking forward to the coming tasks that are going to face your students in the coming days and weeks, what kind of methods might you use to give them a heads up about the challenges?

Maybe you’ll send an announcement, at the very least, that tells them what to expect, what to anticipate. Some instructors create sample assignments, just to show what the formatting might look like, or how things will develop from the beginning of the assignment throughout the submission.

If you store copies of announcements and guidance assets you’re going to create, and repeatedly use these things, you’ll want to revise them and update them over time to save you some development time in the future by reusing them, but also keeping them current. If you’re teaching the same course over and over, creating this kind of asset is really going to help you to have the tools at your disposal without having to reinvent them every single time.

If we look at andragogy theory, the theory of teaching adults, this suggests that adult learners are self-directed. They’re going to get greater autonomy as they’re going through the educational experience with you, and with everyone else they’re interacting with.

Because of this, your adult learners are not as interested in being told what to learn. They’re much more interested in having a meaningful influence in the process of learning, all by itself.

When you give them assets that establish your teaching presence and your social presence, and your cognitive presence, from the community of inquiry, you can actually give them some boundaries for you as the instructor, and you can set up these boundaries for yourself. And at the same time, you’re supporting your students in meaningful learning, and helping them be self-directed in what they’re learning, and how they’re learning it.

You can increase your efficiency and your time management when you develop these things in a way that they can be used again and again. I’m going to give you a couple of categories here that will help you take some steps in producing assets that will guide your students to manage themselves, as they’re working in your class.

Prepare Student Guidance Assets

The first area is to prepare student guidance. I’m calling these assets, because they might be documents, they might be videos, but they’re tangible things that you’re going to use and reuse with your students, and continue to improve. When you teach online, this is going to require you to take the role of a mentor, and a coach a little bit more than the traditional lecturer role that some people associate with higher education.

If you’re used to being the lecturer, where you present things to students in a live situation, and now you’ve moved online to where that’s maybe recorded, and you have to do some other things, this can really be a helpful way to branch out.

Preparing student guidance could be something like a brief video, a netiquette guide, a video guide, some kind of document to help students work through their experience with you.

Communication problems happen a lot online, but they can be prevented entirely, if you tell students how you want them to engage in the class and in the discussion forums, from the very beginning. Students really like to know what your standards are, and they like to be able to review the materials you give them as needed.

You can make the brief video or screencast with some narration, where you’re talking on that video, to guide students into different areas of your classroom. The video might be a walkthrough of how to engage in your class, showing them the different places they need to be, like the tab for the assignments, the tab for submitting things, checking their grades, reading the lessons, accessing any lecture that might be there.

You can also use a netiquette guide to guide them in a way that provides the proper tone for the online class, and some expectations you have, before they ever post in that first week’s discussion. Again, this is going to give your students the opportunity to self-regulate, because they know your expectations.

Any of these videos, tips, or other guidance assets can lead your students into really great participation, and these assets can be used as a reference later, if students fail to comply, or don’t meet your expectations. If you need to redirect them, you can offer them another copy of the netiquette guide, or the video guide that you created, and remind them of what matters in that classroom.

Create Video Assets

Now creating video guides doesn’t have to be a challenging process. There are a lot of things out there you can use. You could create a short video using whatever tool exists in your learning management system. A lot of LMSs have video recorders built in. If you don’t have one, you can look up Screencastify or Screencast-O-Matic. Both of these are excellent ways to record the screen while you’re talking.

If you’re really nervous about putting your voice or yourself on the screen, but you know your students want to connect with you, you can also create slides. There are even ways where you can type a transcript, and something can automate a voice that reads it for you.

It’s best to include your own voice, if you can, and your face students who see you feel almost automatic trust for you at a level that is totally different than when they just read your words. When you guide them through the class and help establish your instructor identity, this also builds the trust that helps them endure and persist throughout the class, when they hit hard times.

When misunderstandings happen, students complain a lot less, because they feel comfortable asking questions and reaching out to you. Think about the free options, Screencastify and Screencast-O-Matic. If you want to buy something, there is Camtasia, there’s also Snagit available, both of which are excellent at recording your screen, and allow you to narrate at the same time.

Create a Netiquette Guide

Talking about the netiquette guide, before the class begins, a netiquette guide can give clear expectations about in-class communication that you want students to use. This was something that Dr. Craig Bogar mentioned in Episode 53 of this podcast, and we’re going to hit back on this topic now.

If there are specific forum discussions or assignments that you prefer submitted in a certain format, you can always post a model and explain it, and also talk about the kind of language to be used. Netiquette can apply to the discussion forums, but it can also apply to the way they use academic language in assignments.

Provide Students with a Model Assignment to Reference

You might consider giving a model assignment to illustrate this, and attaching it to the assignment description. You can give examples and guidance as part of your routine teaching, to prep people for submitting the work.

And also, if you find that there’s a concept that people are not understanding when they’re in your class, you can always create a short video discussing it and talking about how it applies.

If you’d like a sample netiquette guide, you’re welcome to click the link in the podcast notes, and you can access a sample guide that I created and used for quite some time in my online teaching. And you’re welcome to use it.

Prepare Announcements in Advance

Another step you might consider is to prepare announcements in advance. When you do this, you’re going to have something ready to go for each week. You can, of course, tailor it as the course progresses.

Something is going to come up that you’re going to realize needs to be added to these announcements. Maybe it’s a current event, or a suggestion based on something a student has said. Being adaptable and flexible is really important, because online learning can sometimes feel like we’ve structured it so well, that it’s not flexible.

If you can be flexible with your announcements, then you can adapt them throughout the time you’re teaching. But developing them in advance of the course is a great way to keep your workload light. If you keep the content of these announcements for specific dates in the future, but don’t put dates on them, they might be appropriate for the next time you teach the course. Again, you’ll want to personalize and modify things, to make sure that they still meet the needs of that course you’re going to teach in the future, and those students that you’re working with at that time.

Depending on your learning management system, you might even be able to set all of your announcements up to auto open on the first day of each week, without having to manually do this every week. If you created tools to guide your students through the assignments, or to help them navigate your classroom, you can also set these up in the announcements area, to publish automatically as well.

These things are going to help you build a positive academic atmosphere, and set the tone in your online classroom. All of this work done in advance sets you up for success, and helps your students feel safe, because they’re guided by a teaching presence who is really connecting with them, and helping them in every way possible.

When you set this positive tone in your online class, and include elements in your course announcements that are friendly and personable, these also build connections with students, whether you’re aware of it or not, and this reassurance helps students feel like their questions will be answered whenever they have them. Generic announcements, really, depersonalize the experience, so try to avoid making them look super generic or leaving off your personal commentary.

Lastly, anything that’s working for you, like guidance assets you might create, screencasts, video introductions of you, course announcements, a netiquette guide, and example assignments, as you review these and keep them updated for the next time you teach the course, you can store these and repeatedly use them, and personalize them each time you return to the teaching.

Tips for Saving and Storing Assets for Future Use

Saving and storing materials you’ve developed will really save you time. This is a huge investment. Creating assets for your students takes a lot of work, and a lot of time. If you don’t have a place to store repeated announcements or forum posts that you would like to reuse, like your introductory or wrap-up posts, you might consider an online storage site.

There’s one called FacultyFiles, and it’s a free resource that allows you to set up course materials storage areas, separate it by class week and the type of the class, set up how many weeks the class is and put these things in the weeks that you’re going to use them, and just use that as a repository for keeping track of your grading rubrics, your forum posts that are somewhat standard, your announcements, and other things you might repeatedly use.

Using some kind of online storage like this one is especially helpful if you have gaps between teaching the course and the next time you teach it, so you can just keep these resources organized and ready.

In closing, I hope that you have gained some tips today for producing assets that are going to guide your students and help them manage themselves. The workload can be very high in online teaching, but when you create these kinds of important guidance pieces for your students, you’ll save yourself a lot of time in the long term as you’re teaching the course.

Your students can be more self-directed, which satisfies them in their learning much more. You can focus instead on the teaching that you enjoy most, and also engaging with your students.

Thank you for being here for part two of our work-life balance, setting priorities series, episode 55 today. Come back next week for episode 56. We will talk about effective management strategies to round out your work-life balance nicely. Best wishes to you in your online teaching this coming week.

This is Dr. Bethanie Hansen, your host for the Online Teaching Lounge podcast. To share comments and requests for future episodes, please visit BethanieHansen.com/request. Best wishes this coming week and your online teaching journey.