How to Become an Online Educator
initially, most students flock to online learning programs because of the
flexible schedules. But once they try a class or two, many also find that
the online learning environment provides deeper interactions with peers
and teachers than face-to-face classes.
that may be why online student enrollment grew 19.7% annually between
2002 and 2007, whereas the total higher education student enrollment
grew only 1.6% during that period, according to a sloan consortium
national survey ( www.sloanconsortium.org/publications/survey/pdf/
this growth and demand among students for online instruction is drawing
educators to the profession of teaching online, as well. here are some tips
for becoming an online educator:
Be a student first. Enroll in an online class to experience online learning
firsthand. this will help you determine if you would enjoy being an online
teacher and prepare you to better relate to your future students.
Leverage your professional experience. Although educational
institutions have various requirements for academic credentials, they’re
looking for adjunct faculty who can bring real-world experience into the
virtual classroom. the combination of a master’s degree and tenure in a
profession is highly regarded for an online teaching professional.
Create a curriculum vita (CV). resumes don’t work well in academia.
A Google search will turn up several examples of cVs, including online
courses to help you develop your own.
Network. participate in online teaching discussion forums to find out who
is hiring. one popular choice is Yahoo’s onlineteachingJobs group (http://
—Chad McAllister, PhD, is an online educator, product development consultant, and instructor for UC Irvine Extension. He is one of the original developers of the university’s first online
teaching certificate program, The Business of Teaching Online.
The discussion board is the heart of your
course’s online learning community.
K– 12 Classroom, she could have simply asked students to regurgitate an
assigned article’s main points. Instead,
she phrased the question like this:
“After reading article 1, what concepts
did you learn that will help you when
incorporating digital photography
into your teaching situation? Explain.”
Once the dialogue is established,
don’t be afraid to use the discussion
board to motivate the class. Teachable
moments often occur in the midst of
an online discussion, so be prepared
to seize the agenda to take advantage
of the situation, just as you would in a
The discussion board is generally a
graded portion of the class, so make
sure you provide a detailed scoring
rubric so students have some sense
of their obligations and realize that
written responses should consist of
complete thoughts. (See “Evaluation
Rubric for Participation” on page 21.)
Chat sessions, in contrast, generally
have less stringent response criteria
but seldom yield the same quality of
results. Chats are best for collaboration within work groups rather than
for whole-class discussions, as coordinating 20 students’ login times and
making sense of a chat that size would
be difficult. If your CMS allows chat
sessions to be archived, you can review them later.
Assignments/activities. For clarity,
include a checklist of all assignments
and their due dates, as students often