Are You Cut Out to Teach Online?

Many K-12 students (particularly high schoolers) now experience formal education exclusively in the form of online classes. For others, completing a few online classes before their traditional high school graduation is a requirement. Not surprisingly, controversy surrounds the topic of online learning’s effectiveness. But ready or not, here it comes. As more states and districts make the big jump into online education, many teachers are going along for the ride.

Even if you’re a seasoned educator, teaching online can present an entirely new set of challenges and rewards. If you are considering jumping into the online teaching ring, preparation will be key. Below are some links to sites that offer solid advice about strategies for teaching successfully online.

­– Writing at The Journal, veteran online instructor Richard Rose offers words of wisdom to his college students, many of whom hope to become online K-12 teachers.

Edutopia offers information on becoming a high-quality online instructor, as well as sample lesson plans from real K-12 online courses.

— Any classroom teacher can tell you that they wear many hats throughout the day. The same is true of online teachers. Faculty Focus discusses the roles specific to online educators. Although this piece is written with a bend towards higher ed, the concepts translate well for education at any level.

— Watch A Day in the Life of a great online teacher, Kristin Kipp. She was the National Online Teacher of the Year in 2010.

If you have experience as an online instructor, please share your tips and insights in the comments section below.

Tags: ,

One Response to “Are You Cut Out to Teach Online?”

  1. Brian O'ConnorOctober 13, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

    I have taught many online courses and always strive to make them as rigorous, challenging, and interesting as possible. I always include elements of Universal Design to reach as many different learning styles and align my content with a realistic scope and sequence to ensure that my instruction is not beyond my students’ ability.

    That being said, I have come to the realization that any real learning is wholly dependent upon the learner. Teachers can only do so much, but at some point, the student has to do the work and incorporate the learning into their personal schema. In traditional classes, teachers can urge students, cajole students, and act the cheerleader, but even then it is ultimately the student’s responsibility to learn. Online courses limit the teacher’s ability to do this effectively. Since they are not in the same room with the students, they lose the advantage of close physical proximity to implore and spur students to complete their work.

    It is disconcerting that schools are using online courses as requirements for credits, or, worse yet, relying on the internet as an alternative for students not performing up to standards in the classroom. Online learning requires strong internal motivation on the student’s part. If that internal drive is not there, internet courses are and exercise in futility, since the student will not take the time or make the effort to keep up with the work or integrate the learning. My experience has made it clear to me, and many other educators, that online courses are best when provided to students that have already demonstrated that they are willing to put in the necessary energy to make the course meaningful.

    So, much like the old adage attributed to computer programming, if you put garbage in, you will get garbage out, students only get out of online instruction what they put into it.