Feb 122012

Thanks for its flexible hours, online teaching is becoming a more popular career choice for those graduating from teaching education programs. What’s more, with the ever increasing popularity of online university degree programs, the demand for online teachers has exploded in recent years, and is projected to continue growing at a parabolic rate in the near future.

Becoming a successful online teacher, however, can be just as challenging (if not more so) as being a great teacher in a traditional brick and mortar setting. The challenge faced by online teachers is huge: how can you maintain discipline and effectively educate your students without ever being able to meet face to face with them?

Here are 5 suggestions for being a successful online teacher:

Be Extra Organized

Any kind of teaching requires organization, but as an online teacher you need to be extra thorough. In your traditional classroom setting you may have sometimes made your lesson plan up as you went along, but for an online program you will need to have all of your lessons and assignments organized and lay out before your online class even begins. Students want to feel that they are getting as high a quality education as they would in an in-person classroom setting, so being extra organized is a great way to reassure them of this.

Enforce Strict Deadlines

Working late
Creative Commons License photo credit: Ruud Hein

As usually your only communication with your students is via online, there will likely be some students that will try and take advantage of this non-traditional form of teaching. They may hand in assignments late or ask for extensions more freely than if they were attending an in-person class. You will need to crack down on this early on, and let your students know that they must treat this class like any other. You may want to set up rules and penalties from the get go with regards to late work, such as deductions from students’ final grades. When it comes to online education, sometimes you need to be tough to be kind.

Provide a Challenging Syllabus

Many students first entering online education believe the workload and the work itself will be far easier than found at a regular in-person school. However, as an online teacher you will want to teach your course to the same standards as when you teach in a formal classroom setting. Some online teachers even make their tests slightly more difficult when they are given online, as they are aware that students can use their textbooks and search the internet for answers during the test. You don’t want to make your online course impossibly hard, but it should challenge and advance your students’ knowledge.

Offer a Clear and Concise Syllabus

Students often have many questions about their course syllabus and what is required of them. To avoid answering masses of these questions, make your syllabus clear and concise. Clearly outline all that is expected from your students and what they need to do to obtain a good grade. Having a clear syllabus is more important than ever when it comes to online education, as answering direct questions usually takes a lot longer than in a traditional classroom setting.

Grade Quickly and Efficiently

Very little irks online students more than waiting a long time for graded assignments and homework. Try and grade your students work and provide constructive feedback as soon as possible. It will help you assist your students in improving their work more efficiently and students will appreciate your clear commitment to the course. This goes the same for final grades, students are almost always anxious to receive these, so try and submit them promptly after the class has ended.

As you can see, there are a variety of things to consider when you teach online, some of which are entirely different than those you would face teaching in a traditional classroom scenario. It is only with careful planning and dedicated commitment to your craft that you can become a successful online educator.

  2 Responses to “How To Be A Successful Online Teacher”

  1. If only the majority of online instructors would use the tips you have listed it would make online learning a little less frustrating for students. I have taken several college classes online where the instructors seemed to have put little thought into the courses they are being paid to instruct.

  2. The most important thing is for the online teacher to always update his teaching method and strategies of inpacting

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