Educators who supplement or replace their day jobs with online teaching for local public schools are discovering that the perks of working at home come with hurdles, reports the Washington Post: grappling with awkward or confusing lines of communication with their pupils; gauging student performance without seeing facial expressions; and struggling to withstand the urge to check eMail from students during weekends. Online courses, mostly in high schools, have proliferated in recent years: The number of times students enrolled in distance-education courses connected with public schools rose from about 317,000 in 2002-03 to more than 506,000 in 2004-05, the National Center for Education Statistics reported in June. That’s a 60 percent increase. And competition for online teaching jobs, even those that are part-time, can be intense. Teachers who want full-time online jobs with benefits can work in some statewide programs, which can draw students from anywhere in the country or world. Virtual Virginia recently enrolled a student from Shanghai for Advanced Placement English. "We’ll have three openings next year, and I expect to get hundreds of applications," said program director Cathy Cheely. "People are intrigued and realize it’s pure teaching — you’re not worrying about cafeteria duty."

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