Eleutian - The Bridge to Globalization

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Nov 27, 2011

Local teachers help Asian students learn English

SPEARFISH - With large cuts to education funding by the state government last year, many school districts have had to cut certified teaching staff, leaving many teachers looking for work.


But some local educators have found an alternative, spending time - sometimes in the middle of the night - helping Asian students learn to speak English.


Eleutian Technology is the home of the world's largest network of U.S. Board Certified Teachers, who use technology to teach English as a second language to students around the globe. The teachers deliver video conference lessons in real time.


The company's standards are high and it recruits individuals licensed to teach in U.S. public or private schools. Company officials say there are several advantages to doing business in a rural environment.


"When you look at rural America and broadband Internet, it is actually ahead of some of the larger cities in the United States," said Eleutian Technology president Kent Holiday. "Additionally, rural America has a highly educated workforce. When all those factors come together, with the work ethic the Midwest is known for, you have a good combination."


Eleutian has centers in Spearfish and Rapid City, along with six centers in Wyoming -- Cody, Powell, Lovell, Sheridan, Casper and Green River -- and another in Provo City, Utah.


Sally Crowser, who lives in New Underwood and used to be a principal of a small school, likes the Eleutian concept. She relates to other Eleutian teachers who are also teaching in cyberspace.


The program uses technology tools such as Skype or a program called CXP, which is a conference teaching program. Teachers can use Power Point presentations, worksheets, videos, music and other tools to teach. They can be pulled up in the CXP program for students to view.


Crowser said she began her Eleutian teaching career with a 50-minute class of 25 students on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights, all with the same lesson plans.


"I am a teacher who loves to move around the room and talk with kids," she said. "Sitting behind a camera is more difficult. I went 10 hours of teaching online at once."


Crowser said that may not have been the best plan, but she said she loves to watch students learn - remotely or otherwise - adding this style of teaching is easier on her family.


Teri Bauerly, who lives in Spearfish with her husband, learned about the Eleutian program through a Black Hills State Career Center job fair.


"I really love teaching. I needed something that was flexible and it sounded very interesting and fun," she said. "I have been teaching since September."


Bauerly teaches a Korean polycom class, Yoon's classes and one-on-two CXP classes. There are also opportunities for teachers to substitute for another teacher, just as in a regular classroom situation.


"Mostly it is a great experience," said Bauerly. "I get to try different systems and styles to see if I would like them. I become familiar with the different types of content and I meet new students."


Bauerly, who is originally from Sioux City, Iowa, graduated from Black Hills State University with a bachelor's degree in elementary education. She taught fifth grade for one year before returning to Spearfish to pursue her master's degree. She is also working on a MSCI-technology integrationist degree.


Bauerly said a teacher needs to be as prepared as possible, reading over the material, knowing whether or not to add content and thinking ahead about those "just-in-case" moments. Teaching with electronics means that technology issues can arise.


The company provides support, even when the teacher is in the middle of teaching a class. An online or center supervisor is just a click of the mouse away from helping.


Heather Whetham of Sturgis first learned about Eleutian through an Internet ad.


"I was looking for a part-time job to help supplement my full-time teaching position," Whetham said. "My goal is to get my student loans paid off sooner through this job. I like the way I can choose my own hours and work from home. Plus, this job pays better than many other part-time jobs in this area would."


Whetham has taught two classes, both of which were one-to-one Korean classes. She hopes to sign up for more classes, as well as teaching ad hoc classes, which are one-to-one freestyle conversation-type classes. She also would like to substitute in the future.


"The first night (of teaching) was an introduction class and the second night I gave a diagnostic speaking test," she said.


Whetham said that wasn't so much fun, but it is part of what has to be done in any classroom to see where a student is in the educational process.


"I have been told that the lessons will get more fun and entertaining starting next week," Whetham said.


Whetham is in her fifth year of teaching in South Dakota public schools, teaching kindergarten through fifth grades.


"Being new to the company, I'm still a little unsure of what to expect. I think the experience is going to go well. Now that I am teaching I find it very interesting," she said. "Getting to know these students and about another culture is exciting to me. I should start working from home next week, so I am excited to have part-time income while working from home. I also like the fact that I can go full-time in the summer if I want more hours when school is out of session."


 

Source Rapid City Journal