The frustrations of an online lifestyle

It has almost been two years since I started working with VIPKID, the online English school that I am a contract ESL teacher for. I don’t have very many technical issues. Not anymore. But when I do they are the most frustrating experience. Sometimes my computer seems more like a non-compliant colleague then a piece of equipment.

This morning I signed into my classroom without my headset plugged in. It was a silly beginner’s mistake that I should be well beyond by now. Signing into a classroom without a headset should be a simple fix. Plug the headset in, select the headset settings, and… suddenly there was no sound coming out of my speakers, and no sound coming out of my headset. After refreshing my browser, and restarting my computer (which are usually the quickest ways to fix all IT issues) I still had no sound, and by now my lesson time had started. I had dragged my husband out of bed (fortunately I married a computer programmer, or I think I would have lost my job a long time ago…) and he was trying everything he could think of to fix my sound issue as I communicated back and forth with our tech team. Then, the tech team, whom we call “the firemen”, likely because they are always trying to “put out fires” as panicked teachers struggle to learn what is going on in their classroom this time, sent me the dreaded message: please clear your Chrome browser.

I clicked on the link I had been sent, and followed the instructions to reset Chrome. My browser settings are like their own ecosystem. They are carefully programmed through every website I interact with, and every device I plug in to my computer. Or at least that is how it seems to work from my end. I logged back into the classroom… still no sound and now no video either. Somehow resetting Chrome disconnected my camera from the classroom. The class was marked as a teacher IT error, and the sound issue was finally resolved. In the end it turned out that my headset was muted. Fortunately my trusty friend the reboot solved my camera problem, and I was back in action for the rest of my lessons. The thing I can’t wrap my head around is why and how mics can get muted from logging into a classroom (it was not muted before I made my fatal error to log in without the headset plugged in first), and cameras get disconnected by a simple browser reset. The conclusion I draw again and again is that my computer is having a good laugh, and with my profound reliance on this piece of technology I wonder who is really in control- (wo)man or machine.

I made my husband a gourmet breakfast after class finished. I owed him a profound thank you.

 

If you are interested in learning more about VIPKID, don’t hesitate to contact me! jwynands@alumni.uoguelph.ca (it’s not all tech issues, I promise!) Check out: https://chinafigureitout.wordpress.com/category/current-happenings/ and scroll down for more stories from the online ESL world.

Interested in joining the team? VIPKID is hiring! Click on my referral link: https://t.vipkidteachers.com/?refereeId=1136316&partnerId=6891010

I offer all referrals up to an hour on Skype to practice for the interview/ mock class stages, and I am happy to answer any and all questions about the school and VIPKID life: jwynands@alumni.uoguelph.ca

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14 thoughts on “The frustrations of an online lifestyle

    1. Whew, good for you! I made the mistake of unplugging my mic to print this morning, so unfortunately the problem didn’t manifest until right before my class started 😦

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  1. I don’t use a full on headset and have never found issues having it unplugged or plugged in while starting. If I have possible sound issues I just unplug and re plug in my ear buds and refresh! Works nearly every time (more often than no it’s the student with the issue lately). Is there a reason you came across in this that starting class with them unplugged causes this?

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    1. Not sure why it happens, it just does sometimes. I also teach Mock classes, and sound problems are one of the most common issues applicants have! Most of the time a refresh or reboot will work, but occasionally it doesn’t. Not sure why they have problems in all cases, but I have found that logging in without my headset plugged in can sometimes cause issues.

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  2. How frustrating! Technology is both incredibly frustrating and incredibly useful. Isn’t it amazing that teaching English online is even a thing now? And growing in popularity! I hope your husband enjoyed his breakfast 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is amazing, and I can’t believe how fast online ESL is taking off! I’ve been working for VIPKID for two years now, and the company has gone from 500 teachers, when I first started, to 20 000! It is completely mind blowing.

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