About twelve million postsecondary students in the United States were taking some or all of their courses online as of 2009, according toCampus Technology. That number is expected to explode to more than twenty-two million by 2014. But, the growing popularity of online learning does not just benefit students-it also means more online teaching jobs for instructors.
Many online instructors in the United States are licensed teachers who are already employed full time at traditional elementary, secondary, or postsecondary learning institutions. They usually teach hybrid or blended courses, in which their students divide their time between the classroom and online course work, or they may teach only online.
However, there are also plenty of opportunities for part-time teaching work in an e-learning environment. E-learning schools that deal solely in online courses usually hire adjuncts (employees who work for an institution without full or permanent status) as online tutors, foreign language instructors, and writers of online adult education courses, as well as instructors, course developers, and teacher’s assistants for college-level distance learning.
The requirements for online instructors are similar to those for traditional teachers. This generally means a bachelor’s degree and a teaching license for elementary and secondary-grade teachers, a master’s degree for college level, and a doctorate for university level. There are circumstances in which you can teach online without these credentials, however. Some e-learning institutions are also willing to hire undergraduate or graduate students who can prove they have taken advanced course work in the desired subject or working professionals who are experts in their fields.
Online students need to possess particular qualities in order to be successful in an e-learning environment. In the same way, online teaching jobs also demand certain personal characteristics. To be an effective online instructor, you should:
- Be able to spend at least one to two hours every day online with your students.
- Enjoy interacting with students on a one-to-one basis.
- Be able to communicate well in writing.
- Be practiced in basic computer skills such as keyboarding and e-mailing.
- Be proficient with the online tools or content management system that is being used to deliver the course because your students may call upon you to troubleshoot.
- Be comfortable using both real-time modes of instruction such as chats and conferencing as well as asynchronous methods such as e-mail and online forums.
- Be able to provide your students with in-depth feedback to problems or questions in a timely fashion, preferably within twenty-four hours.
- Encourage your students to learn from each other by interacting and sharing their experiences through chat sessions, discussion forums, group presentations, and evaluations.
- Have some personal, firsthand experience with online learning so that you know what your students are experiencing in the e-learning environment. Many traditional schools train their teachers for online instructing by requiring them to undergo online courses themselves.
- Online teaching jobs have many unique advantages, which can include:
- Flexibility. Unless you regularly travel to remote, undeveloped regions where broadband and Wi-Fi capabilities are nonexistent, you can usually perform tasks for your online classes from anywhere in the world at any time of day or night as long as you have access to a computer and the Internet.
- No Borders. You can teach for a school located in another state or even another country without traveling or relocating. Your students likewise have access to your courses no matter where they live.
- High-Tech Creativity. If you enjoy learning about and using new technology, online instructing is an excellent medium for utilizing it. You can create lessons that include virtual and interactive features that keep students motivated and help them exchange information more easily.
- Specialization. An e-learning setting is more conducive to teachers who specialize in obscure or artistic subjects that would normally be taken as electives on a regular campus, such as French literature or creative writing.