It seems that online education and training is getting ready for a new cycle of growth and development. It feels like we are not reaching students’ attention. Currently, I am teaching several university courses using the traditional in-class methodology, and my personal observations I can summarize in a few statements:
- Traditional methods have not been working since students are not used to perceive information in the way we deliver it in the classrooms;
- Students expect knowledge to be delivered using multiple technologies;
- They have a short attention span and they can’t focus more than 15 minutes (at maximum) on the lecture;
- Content should be interactive, engaging, and delivered in small portions.
As a result, the majority of students don’t perceive the information, and they are losing interest and focus by getting disrupted by different things.
I have spoken with my colleagues about their frustration and dissatisfaction with the results of their efforts. But it seems that the best option for us is to expand professional teaching skills and become an online teacher.
The old teaching methods do not match to the audience’s profile – this is our problem. The audience’s profile is formed by 21st century environment, and we can’t turn the time backward. It means we need to change our educational systems to meet the requirements of the Millennial generations.
Many students are intuitively looking for a mode of education which respects their personal freedom by offering them the flexibility to maintain personal learning schedules.
Online education opens opportunities for teachers
But the quality of online courses is composed of 2 factors: quality of courses and quality of teaching. Good online content requires great teachers. Online teaching shares several features with traditional in-class teaching, but it also requires specific skills. Like in the classroom teaching, every student who takes online courses deserves a highly qualified instructor.
Those teachers who have classroom-based teaching experience can expand their skills and knowledge by enrolling in online courses. Teachers can take online courses or modules to meet professional certification requirements while others can select topics to maintain their professional growth.
Reports are showing steady growth of teaching positions for online classes. It applies to all levels of education. It is expected that many adults will also join college and university online courses and programs to improve their career prospects in the rapidly changing economic situations.
Skills required for online teaching
Since online education and training are expanding, the difference in public and business perception of these two modes of education is disappearing. Core values of quality of teaching don’t change significantly in the online delivery, but the teaching methodology is quite different.
The most important online teaching skills are listed below:
- Ability to use online learning platforms. Online instructors and teachers should be familiar with Learning Management systems and Content management systems. They need to know how to use available tools to support online course development and delivery.
- Create online documents using Content Management tools. These documents are produced for students and should be kept accurate and current during the course delivery.
- Design, evaluate, and deliver online courses. Teachers should be familiar with the course design standards, determine the appropriate standard for the specific course, and demonstrate the use of course design and content standards in the content development and delivery.
- Communicate effectively course expectations. At the beginning of the course, teachers should communicate clearly course learning objectives, course delivery schedule, and the assessment schedule.
- Ability to use technology tools when designing the course.
- Incorporate external Internet resources in the course content. Online teachers should know how to locate, evaluate, and reference appropriate Internet resources and incorporate them in the course delivery using Content management tools.
- Maintain active and appropriate communication with students during an online course delivery. To ensure that students feel comfortable with the online learning environment, teachers should maintain regular, constructive, and supportive communication.
- Encourage and support student-to-student discussions and collaboration activities. When designing the course content, teachers should build in the course discussions and collaboration activities as a part of assessment strategies. During course delivery, online teachers should facilitate and moderate discussions. Implementation of collaborative tasks can be done through team discussions, group projects, and assignments.
- Providing regular feedback on students’ progress. It is very important to monitor student progress and inform students regarding their performance. The regular analysis and clear indication of the students’ performance status can help them to overcome some learning challenges. Teacher’s advice is very important; students need to know that teacher is present to help, advice, and support.
- Provide course material according to the delivery schedule.
- Provide some technical support. When technical problems arise, teachers should be able to advise students how to resolve some minor issues. Usually, the issues are related to the functionality of online platforms.
Advantages of the online teaching profession
The list of skills listed in the previous section might look overwhelming for new inexperienced candidates. But the reality is that skills can be developed by attending some online training courses which are developed to train online instructors.
The below list states that online teaching opens new career opportunities for many people with different backgrounds, experiences, and expertise areas.
- The online teaching profession is open to everyone. If a person has strong skills in any area (photography, cooking, graphic design, etc.), he/she can teach others who want to learn more about the specific area. Many experienced and successful online teachers did not have any teaching experience initially.
- Online education and training industry is growing steadily. It is still the right time to start with teaching online courses. With growing numbers of new online learners from around the world, the job market for online teachers and instructors holds many vacancies.
- Teachers can develop personal online courses. It opens additional opportunities for online teachers to create a business by hosting personal online school.
- People are prepared to pay for online courses. Previously, there was a concern regarding the availability of free online resources; it means that any person can learn about any topic without paying for it. But the fact is that most of the people are prepared to pay for already collected, well-designed and well-structured content supported by teacher-led delivery instead of wasting hours searching for required information.
- Opportunity to contribute to the global educational process. Education is helping to make our world a better place. Online teaching gives an opportunity to stay connected with a worldwide audience. It helps to build our knowledge and understanding of different cultures and traditions.
Online teaching is open to new talents
Experienced and knowledgeable educators have always been the key to educational success, and this is also true in the online education and training. Most of the successful teachers are just normal people who wanted to share their knowledge. And some of them are making 6-figures each year, and any of us could be next.
If you are interested to start learning about online teaching, don’t delay. Click on the link below, join online course “Learning to Teach Online” offered by Coursera.