TEACHING ONLINE AND TRAVELING
My current work consists of teach online writing classes, serving as project lead and faculty coach in a new competency-based writing program for a major university and, of course, my personal writing. I write blogs, articles, and ebooks on a variety of topics.
I love to travel and I love camping; for me, that’s the only way to travel. I’ve camped in tents, pop-up campers, travel trailers, and fifth wheels. And now I have my very own slide-in truck camper for when I want to go on road trips by myself (since I don’t like towing trailers).
TWO TYPES OF CAMPING TRAVEL
Destination travel usually refers to minimal travel to get to a destination, with the goal being to stay for a while, usually a week or two, at the destination. Road trip refers to the actual traveling as the primary objective, and generally includes a number of destinations with short stays.
So far this year, I have done both types of travel. My husband and I took a two-week vacation at the beach and we are planning another two-week trip to Acadia this fall. The beach trip was strictly destination travel; however, the Acadia trip will be a combination of road trip and destination travel. We have a Ford F250 crew cab 4×4 diesel and we tow a 30 foot fifth wheel with two slides for destination travel. It’s quite roomie and comfy for overnight camping or for living in for a vacation or even a couple of months.
So far this year, I have also traveled solo, driving the truck with the slide-in camper, on a four-week road trip to TX and am planning several short one-week trips to the mountains between now and mid-Sept. I rarely stay in one place longer than one to three nights. While our vacations are limited to the four or five weeks per year my husband gets from work, my solo road trips are limited only by Internet connectivity. Much as I’d like to, I can’t go off out in the boondocks because I wouldn’t be able to connect to the Internet. Since I use a mobile wifi hotspot, I need to make sure I’m in cell tower range wherever I go.
TRAVEL OFFICE FOR CAMPING
Setting up a travel office is pretty much the same for destination travel or road trips. Wherever you can get Internet, you can work. Even if hiking or cycling is the favored mode of travel, you can easily take what you need to teach online. Whatever type of travel you prefer, setting up a travel office is simple and easy. You don’t need much in the way of hardware and your office can easily be carried in a tote bag or backpack.
My travel office is the same whichever type of traveling I am doing. My motto is “less is better” and as far as weight, I have to be able to carry it all in one tote bag.
For accessing the internet, I use a wifi hotspot from my smartphone. I have 4g of data per month and if I need another gig, it’s just $10. Even though both my husband and I use the same account, we’ve never gone over the 4g allotted for any given month, even when I was traveling the entire month. I did come close one month when I was doing web design work as that uses a lot more data than just teaching, writing, emailing, and surfing the web.
If you’re traveling and teaching online, you will have access to free wifi at motels, campgrounds, etc. A word of warning here – even though these may have passwords, they are not secure connections. Check your school policy manual. Most schools prohibit faculty from accessing their online classes on unsecured networks. Password-protected DOES NOT mean secure. So this means you must have your own secured network to access your courses. You can use free wifi for anything you want except accessing your online class.
HARDWARE AND EQUIPMENT
There are several devices that work together or each by itself to make online work easy to access and complete when traveling. All I need is my smartphone, tablet, and laptop. In some cases, a laptop may be not even be necessary.
My smartphone alerts me to new emails and can be used for quick responses that need to be made immediately. I also have a 7-inch tablet from which I can do everything except grading. Most LMS gradebooks are inaccessible from phones. Tablets that have a Windows OS can be used for grading.
For that reason, I also have an Asus 10-inch lightweight notebook with Windows 8. I can access everything in any LMS through the browser. The Asus also has a touch screen and I can us that along with the keyboard.
SOFTWARE FOR WORKING
My Asus does not have MSWord but Open Office works just fine and is compatible with any files my students send. Students are required to save files in RTF so that compatibility is never an issue, no matter if they are using Open Office, MSWord, or some of the word processing programs available for Android and iPad.
Google dropbox and drive are perfect to synch files on the smartphone, nexus, and notebook. I use QuickOffice on the android, KingSoft on the tablet, and OpenOffice on the notebook. I also have laptop with MSWord and usually I do carry that for longer trips because that’s where I do all my course and web design work.
I find that using a keyboard and mouse increase work productivity time so a while back, I picked up an inexpensive wireless keyboard without the number pad, so it’s less bulky than the regular keyboards, along with a wireless mouse.
TAKING YOUR OFFICE WITH YOU
Your travel office can fit in a backpack for easy transport whether driving, flying, cycling, hiking, or cruising. Teaching online is perfect for anyone who loves to travel. Everything I need fits into one tote bag: smartphone, tablet, notebook or laptop, keyboard and mouse. It’s quick and easy to stow it in the truck or camper, ready to pull out and work whenever and wherever I happen to be.