According to Kearsley and Blomeyer (2004) online courses have not only become common but are also very popular and are used by schools as well as colleges and universities.
I like the idea of becoming an online teacher myself and teaching one-to-one, rather than the normal face-to-face group teaching style typical of a classroom environment, and the flexibility that method of teaching offers me and my students. Although I am regularly (and almost constantly) online, I know that between myself and my “distant” students we could work out schedules of contact, so that for any particular student I would be available when they initiate contact, or vice versa. I think this individual style of teaching is extremely satisfying – from both sides – because teacher and student can directly communicate. In a classroom, it is frustrating if a student needs to ask a question but must wait for others to conclude with their issues, then finds time has run out. Another consideration: having previously taught in deprived areas, I know that online teaching can certainly be a safer environment for me!
Without wishing to sound too “mercenary” there is also the factor that teaching online (from my home) is extremely cost-effective. With ever-increasing travel costs – either public transport or fuel and parking charges – working from home can produce major costs savings, whilst allowing longer hours of work in the same overall length of working day, thereby giving me more time for my students, without stretching my day beyond reasonable limits.
I believe that I have the necessary qualities to be a good online teacher. As mentioned above I prefer the interaction on a one-to-one basis, I am quite happy to spend as long as it takes at my computer workstation communicating with my students as part of the teaching process. I believe I possess the necessary flexibility to be an effective teacher for a diverse range of students, adapting my style as required to help them achieve their learning objectives.
I do of course have a good, high speed broadband internet connection at my home, and have more than the minimum required competence standards for all the normally used “tools” such as the Microsoft Office suite of programs. I have also taken online courses myself in the past so have experience from the other side of the fence as it were.
I fully realize that online teaching takes more teacher time than classroom teaching; that almost goes without saying, yet I shall still make time to interact with each of my students and shall encourage them to interact with each other through forums set up for that purpose.
As for other ways to be effective as an online teacher, I gained some valuable ideas from “Strategies for Effective Online Teaching (2007), including the following:
- Ensure the students understand they must play an active role in the process of learning, if appropriate offering criticism of course topics;
- Encourage students to undertake research, including using the Internet, though to always check the credibility of information they obtain;
- Require students to submit their work without fail in a timely manner;
- Encourage group participation of students in applicable projects;
- Be timely myself to set an example to the students, always notifying students in advance of any planned or unscheduled absences or periods of my unavailability;
- Incorporate appropriate email/telephone systems to monitor and advise any particularly tardy students who fall behind, to ensure they do not miss critical deadlines to stay involved with their course.
All in all, I am sure that I could be a good online teacher. Not only do I have the right equipment and technology to fulfill that function, I believe I have the attributes to be successful and to provide students with the interface / service they require and deserve for their courses.
Kearsley, G., & Blomeyer, R. (2004). Preparing K-12 Teachers to Teach Online. Retrieved from http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/TeachingOnline.htm
Strategies for Effective Online Teaching. (2007). Retrieved from http://eu.montana.edu/online/pdf/strategies.pdf