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How To Become An Online Instructor

Updated on October 30, 2009

Why Become An Online Instructor?

Here are some good reasons to become an online college teacher:

Potential Job Growth

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,, state that job growth for postsecondary teachers is good, increasing at a much faster than average rate for all careers. Experts have made this prediction because of the large number of faculty members expected to be retiring.

Good Earning Potential

In 2004, the salary for postsecondary teachers in the middle fifty percent earnings bracket was between $36,590 and $72,490, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Is There A Demand For Online Teachers?

Due to the downturn of the economy, online learning is in demand. Branson School, an online high school located in central Colorado is currently experiencing a high demand and enrollment in online adult education training courses (Branson, 2008). As more companies initiate layoffs, online colleges have seen a substantial increase in enrollments (Carter, 2008). Many people who have been recently laid off believe that a degree will help them in a very competitive job market. The talent pool in the workforce is high and any advantage that workers can obtain is highly suggested. Just having experience just is not enough.

Many new students feel that online classes give them the chance to improve their resumes and make themselves more marketable without the need to commit to the demanding schedules found on traditional campuses.

What Qualifications

For those that have a Master’s degree, many Community Colleges that offer online courses recruit adjunct faculty from across the entire United States. The key to obtaining a job as an online Community College instructor is to have a Master’s degree in a particular subject area. A degree in education is adequate, if you want to teach education classes, but if you wanted to teach History, you would need a Master’s degree in in some form of History. Some schools are more liberal with their requirements and will accept a person with a Master’s degree and eighteen graduate credits in the subject area they wish to teach.

What Are the Steps in Becoming an Online Instructors

STEP 1: Understand What You Are Getting Into

Consider the following

  • You should have a computer that is at least a Pentium III with at least 64 MB of RAM
  • You are comfortable with your basic PC skills
  • You should be able to create and manipulate documents (formatting, copying, pasting, attaching and retrieving them)?
  • You have a desire to learn new software applications
  • You should have taken an online course


Your local community college may have a number of affordable online courses. Take advantage of these and connect with fellow classmates and instructors. Join professional social networking sites such as LInked In or PartnerUp and get connected with people who have online education background.


  • Online courses are delivered to a computer screen by means of one or more authoring software products. Choose what fits your needs and works most efficiently.
  • Decide how you plan to develop and deliver your course.

Are You Ready To Be An Online Teacher?

When one thinks of online teaching, one may envision an impersonal means of communicating and teaching students where there can be no possible connection with students. Though there is an obvious impersonal component to online teaching, there are ways to fully connect with students. In order to be an effective online teacher, one must try to make that connection with the student despite the impersonal nature of online education. Also one needs to be familiar with basic web technologies such as e-mail, message boards, chat rooms, and web cams.

Here is a questionaire developed by Online that determines if you are ready to be an online teacher. Just click below to begin.

Online Instructor Questionaire

Steps to Develop Online Courses

Simply posting a syllabus online and having student complete assignments does not constitute an online class. Many students who have taken online courses will tell you that they had received the best learning experience from an online course where they had interactive teachers and a user friendly web site. Online instructors do not have the luxury of looking at a lecture hall and determine the interest level of the students nor can they easily determine if students are actually learning the material. Attentiveness and comprehension are top concerns of online instructors. Dr. Steven Gershon, an English professor at Johnson County Community College in Kansas developed the E-Class Model. This easy to follow template can be used to create online courses in any discipline.

The E-CLASS Model: E-CLASS is an acronym for the following:

E = Explain
C = Clarify
L = Look
A = Act
S = Share
S = Self Evaluate/Submit

E-CLASS was created to help teachers create online courses by providing a systematic, sequential procedure, as follows:

Explain. This is the beginning of the project or assignment. An overview for the assignment is the focus. This represents the reasoning behind why the student is being asked and the steps to complete the assignment which should apply to any discipline.

Clarify. Here one moves from the general concept to certain specifics. Clearly highlighting the expectations and out comes of the class is the main point of this section.

Look. Next you allow students to review examples or model what's being taught. Displaying examples of completed assignmnets as well as other resources are examples of the this category.

Act. This segment of the assignment encourages the students to participate to understand the full meaning of the subject. Posting a discussion question on a discussion board where answers are shared, and also giving reflection or expressive essays to determine the level of knowledge.

Share. At this stage of the sequence, a community of learners is created. Perhaps this is the ultimate challenge of online education. You can implement a series of assignments that calls for learners to share ideas in a class chat room.

Self-evaluate and Submit. Students can receive feedback from others by signing up to participate in an e-mail group and they can evaluate their own work, perhaps by referring to a criteria checklist, then submit the work.

Tools Used to Develop Online Courses

Tools that are used to create and develop online courses fall into two categories: Synchronous technology which is technology that enables students and teacher to communicate in real time, and Asynchronous technology which is technology that allows students and teachers to work in their own convenience.

Synchronous Tools

One can create an online course that can be utilized to simulate the activities of a traditional classroom synchronously by using the following;

Web Cams

Instructors can set up a qualtity web cam on their personal computer and conduct a class remotely.

Chat Rooms

Instructors can easily set up a chat room and conduct a class. (free on yahoo, Google, and Facebook).

Audio Stream Courses

Through web radio programs such as Pirate Radio and Live 365 one can broadcast a course live and have students log into a site to listen to your lectures.

Asynchronous Tools

Online courses can also be conducted asynchronously through a combination these online technologies:

Message Boards

Instructors can post discussion subjects, and students can answer them at their convenience. Instructors can also post links to other important web resources


Student can attach assignments and send them to their instructors via e-mail. Instructors can also send links as well as attach media for students to use.

Addressing Learning & Teaching Styles

Within various formats of online education, course developers must include some degree of learning development theories. In developing online courses, course developers must keep in mind and account for various learning styles. When courses are given online, instructors cannot inspect the classroom to see if students are falling asleep or in a zombie like trance, and because of this, instructors do not know the best method to use thus course developers must account for all learning styles which are the following:

Auditory: Learners that learn best by hearing.

Visual: Learners that learn best seeing.

Kinesthetic: Learners that learn best by touch and interaction.

Online chat rooms, web cam lectures, audio streamed lectures, and online message boards allows for all forms of interaction thus all of these tools covers some aspects of all learning styles. Companies such as Apple Computers, Web CT, and Blackboard have packaged all of these formats and offered them to various colleges and universities. Through ITunes, owned by Apple Computers, colleges and universities can offer web cam and audio streaming technology so that students can listen and view courses through their iPods. Apple also now offers customized web pages for instructors to administer their courses. Students can not only listen or view their lectures through their iPods, but also upload their assignments via the web site.

Creativity, imagination, and exemplary organizational skills are also needed to make a successful online learning experience. If you are faculty and thinking about creating an online course, check to see if your institution offers incentives to reward faculty for the extra effort required to develop and administer online courses. Also research your university's faculty development program to see if they offer online course development training.

More Resources: Implementing Learning & Teaching Styles to Online Courses

Supporting Different Learning Styles in an Online Learning Environment:
Does it Really Matter in the Long Run? by Dr. Steven Terrell

Comparing Student Learning Styles in an Online Distance Learning Class and an Equivalent On-Campus Class, By David Diaz

How an Understanding of Student Learning Styles can be Applied in the Online Environment


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    • profile image

      Tami 3 years ago

      I want to start sn online trichology course and was thinking about the necessary steps to move forward

    • melbrown1 profile image

      melbrown1 8 years ago

      Thanks for the suggestion Autowiz.

    • 1AutomationWiz profile image

      1AutomationWiz 8 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      You can start at online schooled like and submit a proposal for a course, too. Pay isn't fantastic, but not bad for a course.

    • melbrown1 profile image

      melbrown1 8 years ago

      Thank you for your comments. You may want to look at this site here. This may give you some ideas on how to create an onlne art course

    • IslandVoice profile image

      Sylvia Van Velzer 8 years ago from Hawaii

      I don't plan to be an online college instructor, but i am curious about teaching basic painting to children. I suppose i can apply some of your tips. This is a very informative hub.