Online Teaching Jobs
Dr KT Erwin
Online Teaching Jobs
Would you like to make more money teaching with less stress and be in charge of your time? Online teaching jobs opened a new world for me by merging my love for teaching, writing, schedule flexibility and working at home. If this appeals to you, visit here regularly for new information on how to find the right online teaching job and how to be successful as an online instructor.
Online Teaching Jobs Increasing
The market continues to increase for online teaching jobs. According to Hayes (2010) "as the economy continues to stagger, universities are forced to respond to increasing numbers of students knocking at their virtual doors in search of online classes" (p 17). Adults who have lost jobs in the economic downturn and young adults who have yet to find a job after earning undergraduate degrees are returning to school for a different or higher level degree. That means more online teaching jobs!
Online learning also makes it possible for adults to prepare for a new career while remaining on the job. No longer do aspirating students have to move and uproot the family because the education comes to them via internet. Its a win-win situation.
Almost half of the online teaching jobs created each year in higher education are for adjuncts. Whether you are looking to make extra money or get a foot in the door to apply for a full time position, online teaching jobs are where many faculty begin.
Hayes, D. (2010). College on demand. Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, 27(3), 17-30.
What Online Teaching Jobs and Fashion have in common
Fashion designers work a season ahead. As the last model walks the runway at New York Fashion Week, the designers are working on the next season. Online teaching jobs have a similar advance schedule. Fall term classes are barely underway when the online classes are assigned for Spring term. So if you want an online teaching job, be prepared to plan ahead. First, there is the need to clear the usual university hiring process which includes transcript review and reference check. Second, you will attend an interview either on campus or by SKPYE or other distant communication tool.
Third, newcomers to online teaching may be required to take a training class or shadow another professor.
Get into the process as quickly as possible. Applicants with prior online teaching experience usually go to the head of the line, particularly if there is an unexpected need. A sudden jump in enrollment can send Coordinators scrambling to find another online teacher. If you have experience and are willing to take a last minute assignment, let the Coordinator know that when you apply. But if this is your entree into online teaching jobs, apply and be patient. Keep in mind the fashion schedule - - - what is shown today was planned months in advance. Online teaching jobs are planned early in the previous term so apply and be patient.
ABCs of Online Teaching
Online teaching jobs go to those who practice their ABC's - -Always Building & Creating. Those are the characteristics of effective online teachers. In the campus class, teachers can catch up as they go, finding content weekly to fit the syllabus. Not so for online classes. Online teachers build the complete term class in advance so that everything is uploaded before the start of class.
With teach new text edition, assignment change, new objectives or the dreaded learning management system updates. What worked well in class design before may not work the same after the system is upgraded. The online teacher is a "big picture" educator who can plan ahead and master the electronic delivery system along with content mastery.
Online teaching is, in my opinion, the height of creativity which is developed by building a class within the learning management system. If you are fascinated by technology, willing to be a constant learner and enjoy creating new ways to communicate knowledge, then take a look at online teaching jobs.
Teach on the go with Mobile Aps
Mobile Apps liberate online teachers from their offices as "class" can be monitored from smartphones and tablets. Thanks to my university's mobile app, I travel with my iPad which dramatically reduces weight and space.
The mobile app gives a view into the major class functions such as discussion board, announcements, assignments, etc as well as the option to view the site in browser. This app also provides exciting new options for interacting with students. For example, while attending a counseling conference I was able to talk with the author of our main text. I took a photo of me with the author and added his greeting to the class. This was uploaded from my iPhone into the class by mobile app.
Other mobile app uses valued by online teachers are ability to send email or voice email to students, add information to the class wiki, join in the discussion board and send photos or videos. Added communication options like Mobile Apps make online teaching jobs an even more flexible career option.
The photo shows a variety of items available from my university's mobile app including my classes on the Blackboard learning system.
How to find universities who need online faculty?
In this digital age, online education is the norm rather than the exception at colleges and universities. Start with your alma mater or nearby schools and surf their web sites. Do you see online courses on the schedule? Those may be taught by full time on-campus faculty, however, there are usually some opportunities for online adjunct faculty.
My approach is to start near then widen the search. Here's how to begin inquiring about online teaching jobs with colleges and universities that are:
1. The undergraduate and graduate schools from which you earned degrees (affinity is a powerful influence)
2. Located in your city (you can visit and chat with professors in your field and attend an interview)
3. Located in your region or state (work from local outward)
4. Leading schools for your specialty or degree type (again, affinity)
5. Schools where you know a faculty member who can give an enthusiastic reference
6. Schools where you have connection via friends, co-workers or other professional associates who would make an introduction for you
7. Have large, nationally advertised online education programs (the larger the program, the more online teaching jobs available)
You can also place your resume with online matching services. These may take longer as you are depending on a school to look for you, when the best approach is for you to present yourself to the school. Decades ago the yellow pages used a slogan, "let your fingers do the walking". In the search for online teaching jobs, let your mouse lead the search!
What attracts you to online teaching jobs?
What motivates you to seek online teaching jobs?
10 Time Management Essentials for Online Teaching
Aside from the right credentials, the #1 skill needed for online teaching jobs is good time management. Whether you teach one online class or four (at four different schools like I do), you absolutely must mange time effectively.
Showing up twice weekly for a live class is a forced deadline. The online week can easily pass without the instructor keeping up. That lack on interaction frustrates students and give them ample reasons to dislike online learning.
Here are my top time management tips for online teaching:
1. Set up a Favorites folder with log ins to active classes for fast access
2. If possible, use the same password.
3. Schedule time daily in your calendar to monitor and interact with online classes.
On average days, I can manage all four classes in 60 to 90 minutes.
4. Schedule longer time blocks for grading major assignments. Split the time over several days and never wait until the last week of the semester.
5. Let students know when you typically check in to class; morning, evening or both, that way students know when to expect a response from you. Some schools require 24-48 hour email response and set the number of days fo your to be present online.
6. Keep gradebook current. When students can check their grade progress online, you get fewer phone calls or frantic emails.
7. If you are traveling during a class, check on internet connection locations before you leave. Don't get stuck without connection. There are lists of free wifi locations for most major cities.
8. Note all major assignment dates and grading due dates in your personal calendar starting 4 days before the absolute due date.
9. Expect to spend 4-5 hours fully preparing, uploading and arranging any new subject in an online class. The next term, you can "course copy" most of this work and spend 1-2 hours setting up for the new class.
10. Set up detailed "to do" lists for your classes either in an electronic note system or paper/pencil. Last year I discovered Planner Pads (www.plannerpads.com) which have room to coordinate all my classes, plus my freelance writing and Health Coaching. Whatever "to do" system you prefer, use it consistently.
Online Teaching Jobs for K-12 Teachers
Connections Academy is another major player to join K12 online public school in serving the distance learner, home school student or student seeking courses not available at local public schools. That means new opportunities for online teachers are growing as Connections Academy expands.
If you are a certified teacher in elementary, middle or high school and want to transition to online teaching, search the job openings at connectionsacademy.com From general subjects to electives to administration, this is another opportunity to move out of the traffic jams and classroom chaos to comfort and freedom of online teaching.
P.S. No more playground duty, parents hovering at your classroom door or spending your money on art supplies.
Accreditation - Real v. Scam
As more schools go online, the opportunities for online teaching jobs become increasingly competitive. If you are attempting to get a first online teaching job, don't be fooled by the accreditation shell game.
Yes, accreditation is an important measure of a school, college or university commitment to excellence and oversight. However, who accredits the accreditors? It's strictly "buyer beware" or better yet "buyer be informed".
If you are considering an advanced degree to teach online, choose a REGIONALLY ACCREDITED University. These are the Big 6: Southern Association of Schools and Colleges, New England Association of Schools and Colleges, North Central Association on Accreditation and School Improvement, Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges and Northwestern Association of Schools and colleges. An advanced degree from any university with REGIONAL ACCREDITATION by one of these groups opens doors to teach.
Are there other accreditations? Yes, some lesser size/quality and others are plain, old fashioned scams. Their approval is given to any institution whose check for membership cashes. Don't accept a fancy seal and mysterious letters as legitimate accreditation. Do more research. Check with the USDOE (US Department of Education) or CHEA (Council for Higher Education Accreditation).
NEVER waste your time or money to enroll in a school that promises quick preparation for online teaching jobs. The entry for online teaching jobs at credible schools and universities is a degree in your field from a REGIONALLY ACCREDITED COLLEGE or UNIVERSITY. There is no substitute.
Podcasts are prime communication tools
A student wrote on my evaluation this term: "With all the electronic tools in our system, I don't know why more instructors won't use them. Thanks for the podcasts, they were so helpful!"
I agree. Podcasts are the easiest way to "get the ear" of your students. These are not lectures. Podcasts are for short communications that are highly targeted. That's the great value. Adding this verbal element is extremely helpful for students who are auditory learners.
For example, I have 3 podcasts related to the major research paper:
1. Expectations of the paper (length, format, resources)
2. How to develop a topic
and the all time favorite,
3. "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Research".
Encourage students to "subscribe" to podcasts from your course so these are automatically received. Place reminders in announcements of weekly discussion boards to listen to podcasts.
Keep the tone of the podcast conversational. Let your personality shine. If you have a sense of humor, use it appropriately. Since I frequently have my birds (Par and Mr Checkers) on my shoulders while recording they occasionally make noise. I point out that "Par just affirmed that statement". Students enjoy feeling like they have a connection with online instructors by even a small glimpse into your world.
Remember to export a copy of your podcasts to your computer for use in the next class.
How many online classes can you teach?
Simple answer: as many as you can manage effectively. For several years, I called myself a "Roving Academic", teaching as adjunct instructor for several schools. Eventually I had online teaching jobs at three undergraduate and two graduate schools. That gave me a teaching load of 120-150 students on three different term/semester schedules. From those online teaching jobs, I earned a full income but no benefits since adjunct instructors are part-time, contract workers.
Benefits of multiple online teaching jobs:
1. Increased earnings
2. Avoid boredom of teaching same subject repeatedly
3. Time and travel flexibility
4. Can take off a term at will
5. Build experience with various online systems
Disadvantages of multiple online teaching jobs
1. Keeping up with different schedules, policies, standards
2. Long hours grading major assignments
3. No benefits
4. When enrollment dips, classes given first to Full Time Faculty
5. Must learn various online systems on your time
CAUTION: start with one class and learn the online process well. After mastering the technical aspects of the system and the teaching requirements, then add a second and finally a third. Some online instructors claim to teach 7-10 classes at once and make $100,000. That seems extreme to me, however I can tell you that the time commitment to do the job well might be worse than a 9-5 job.
Online Teaching increased in K-12
The entry of K12.com shows the growing trend of online teaching jobs for elementary, middle and high school teachers. No longer the exclusive territory of colleges and universities, the options for K-12 students to learn online are driven by parent demand. Why such a demand with "free" public schools? Parents around the country are dissatisfied with public education, bullying, crowded classrooms and underfunded programs. They are looking at the educational alternatives that have long been choices for families who travel, live in distant areas, on military bases or choose online options to enhance home schooling.
How Students Can Train for Online Teaching Jobs
Graduate or Doctoral students have an ideal opportunity to train for online teaching jobs before graduation. How? Easy, you can work part time as a Teacher's Assistant (TA) for an online professor at your university. It's the perfect OJT (on job training) for online teaching since you will learn how to work the online system and have access to the dashboard that controls the class.
As a TA, you also can see how the professor builds, manages and teaches online. The more you get to do with the class, the more you learn. The TA experience could put you ahead of other candidates who have never had an online teaching job.
So rather than take a student job in the bookstore or cafeteria, become an online TA. You'll have one more valuable skill to add to your resume and one more job option after graduation. And you can work anywhere with internet access; airport, traveling, by the pool.
Social Networking for Online Teaching Jobs
Simple as this sounds, find your online teaching job online. Scan social networking sites for groups that focus on teaching online.
Don't forget to check the information at a college or university site under HR or Employment. State universities are required to have more disclosure than private instittutions, so you will find complete information about the available teaching jobs, pay range and required academic credentials. Start scanning for jobs in this order:
1. Your alma mater/s. Does your college, university or graduate school have online teaching jobs?
2. Schools within 10-20 miles of your home. Instructors with no college teaching experience are often required to start teaching on-ground (traditional classroom) before transferring to online. Proximity also gives you the adventage of networking with the department staff.
3. Schools where your spouse, partner, employer or colleagues have connections. An introduction from an influential person may open the door to get your resume out of the slush pile and into the hands of the decision maker.
4. Tweet it! Tell your Twitter friends what you are looking for and ask for suggestions.
5. Ask friends on Facebook and LinkedIn if anyone is an online teacher or knows an online teacher. Connect with other online instructors to get their suggestions.
6. If you choose to make a Video Resume, read my suggestions further in this lens. A well produced video resume can be a fantastic tool; just add the link in email application letters. If you are camera shy, fidgety or frightened and think you can do this yourself with a cheap camera, forget it. Look at some of the You Tube video resumes to see what disaster looks like.
7. Take any opportunity to teach in distance format. Volunteer to teach a webinar for your employer or create one for an non-profit organization. Offer a free SKYPE call where you teach a specific skill. Any experience communicating in a distance format is valuable.
What Students Want from Online Teachers
Universities pay attention to what students, as consumers, find most appealing with online learning. Without the regular face-to-face contact of traditional campus class, online teachers have to make additional efforts to connect with their students. In that sense, online teaching jobs are more challenging than teaching on campus. If you are interested in teaching online, be aware of what students want as shown in this study from JOLT (Journal of Online Teaching (vol 6, #4, December 2010). Here are some of the top items:
**Participates in online class discussion
** Responds to student questions or concerns within 24 hours
**Offers some "real time" chat sessions
**Establishes clear expectations
**Gives timely feedback on assignments
**Makes course easy to navigate
**Keeps promises made to students
Did you notice that this student wish list for online teachers is not so different from best practices for classroom teachers?
Students want to connect with their professors and feel that their learning is important to us (not just our job). Online instructors need to be bold; add a video demonstration, use podcasts, send voice email, upload pictures and add a class blog. The tools of online learning are also additional points of contact.
Remember that this is an online-oriented generation. They learn, play and relate well online with others. If you are not already oriented to the online world in simple ways like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, then you will find more challenges with online teaching jobs than in traditional classroom.
Show Not Tell Gets the Online Teaching Job
Why say you are "comfortable with online learning tools" when you can show that you are? In today's market, even on-campus faculty are trained in the online learning system, so it's not the exclusive territory it once was. That means you must stand out from a large applicant pool to secure the online teaching job, even as an adjunct.
On your resume, add demonstrations of your online capability. For example, give a link to a podcast, brief webinar, animated lecture (particularly great for science and math) or other sequential learning activity that is done online. If necessary, volunteer to prepare an online training for the local Chamber of Commerce, charitable organization or K-12 private school. Your "pay" comes in hosting your work on their web site. Another option is to prepare a short lesson series in your field using electronic tools that is recorded and uploadable. Add to your web site, blog or a cloud with separate linking capability. These "products" show that you can do more that surf the net and email. Show that you are familiar with online teaching and using the tools to make a class more interesting. Try this approach to stand out among the crowd seeking online teaching jobs.
What's your ideal online teaching job?
With top pay and flexibility being equal, which grade level would you prefer to teach online?
Why do you want to teach online?
What motivates you to apply for online teaching jobs? Are you tired of the long commute to work? Do you feel frustrated by your work environment and long for quiet work at home? Do you think teaching online is easier than face-to-face teaching? Answering these questions is important before filling out an application at any college or university.
1. Commute: My day begins with a bike ride or exercise then a short walk across the house to my office. Unless I have to attend a webcam meeting, I can go to work in my warm-up suit or shorts depending on the season. Instead of wasting an hour or more each day in traffic, I get work done faster and finish earlier.
2. Frustrating work environment: Yes, as an online instructor, I avoid the hallway conversations, drop-in visitors interrupting my concentration or getting involved in workplace drama. However, online faculty do attend meetings online, on SKYPE or by conference call. Full time online faculty are expected to participate in curriculum committees, dissertation committees, research projects and other usual responsibilities. Even adjunct faculty online are expected to attend meetings and trainings online. Teaching requires working with people; administrators, colleagues and students so don't think lack of an on-campus office gets you out of those things.
3. Online v. Face to Face: When done well and professionally, teaching is hard work whether you are in front of a lecturn or in front of your computer. To build rapport in the online environment, instructors have to be more than readers and graders. They have to become "real" to their students with regular communication, podcasts, videos, live class chats, blogs or other means of reaching out to the students.
Think about how you really feel about these three questions before you pursue any online teaching jobs.
Beware Online Teaching Jobs "Easy" Sites
Do you laugh at the outrageous offers of pay for stuffing envelopes? Those "easy money" ad claims are no worse than what you may find from sources that claim the inside track for placement of online teaching jobs. The scams tend toward two areas:
Scam 1. "Jobs" that require you to pay for listings. What they offer is the same information you could get from any college or university web site.
There are legitimate job sites for online teaching jobs like Adjunctopia which has no other "strings attached" like the scam sites do.
At best think of any job site listing the same as you would the "help wanted" ads in the local newspaper. You still have to pursue the job and be qualified for the job. If you have any academic credibility, why not go to the source? (Isn't that what we tell our students about research sources?) The most updated and accurate information for online teaching jobs at any college or university is FREE at that school's web site, usually found in the HR link.
Scam 2. Create your own course. For a fee, you can develop any course your way. Forget about professional qualifications or academic rigor, just sign up and you are an instant online instructor. Problem is, you have no students. Oh wait, the site prompts you to market your courses. Who is doing the work and who is getting paid? Answer to both - you are.
The online programs are growing faster than on-campus programs at many college and universities around the country. Don't be sidetracked by easy entry, pay-to-go scams that waste your time.
Baby Boomers Embrace Online Learning
Online learning and the Net-Generation (Millennial kids) seems like a natural but its the Baby Boomers who increasingly join online college and university classes. The Journal of Online Learning and Teaching (JOLT) presented a cohort group study which showed that late career adults (ages 50-65) were more satisfied with online classes than early career (ages 21-35) or mid career (ages 36-49) adults,
Late career adults may have less computer experience and require more technology support initially. However, what they lack in tech skills they make up for in motivation and rapidly progress to mastery in online learning.
So if you are a late career teacher thinking about transitioning to online teaching jobs, you will easily relate to many of your students.
Read the full article at: http://jolt.merlot.org
Erickson, A.S. & Noonan, P. (June 2010). Late career adults in online education. Merlot Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 6 (2)
Will Video resume help land online teaching jobs?
Video is the NEXT BIG THING showing up in email, web sites, social networking and promotions. Video resumes are also coming on strong for applicants who hope they can make a connection with the decision makers better this way than as a faceless paper entity that is the typical resume.
What about video resumes for online teaching jobs? Not much statistical evidence on this, so we have to look at an overview of this trend. MSNBC story, Dying to Get the Job, presented some hard truths on how video resumes can be more damaging than useful when the video is not properly targeted to the potential employer (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21323396/).
If you choose to send a video resume to a college or university keep these tips in mind:
1. Don't depend on Cousin Louie, hire a professioal videographer. Nothing looks worse than amateur lighting and poor sound quality.
2. Rehearse with an outline of talking points - - -DO NOT memorize or attempt to read a script. As an instructor you are expected to know your material well, so if you don't even know why you are qualified without reading it, don't expect to be taken seriously.
3. Choose clothing appropriate to the college or university. That does not mean the '80s matching 3 piece suit. Select a jacket or sweater that shows you in business casual as you would see in a corporate job. Make certain the color is flattering near your face and the clothes fit properly. Most resume videos are of you from torso and up, so if you can't afford a great outfit, get a high quality shirt, sweater or jacket which shows on camera.
4.Practice in front of a mirror. You have to learn to look into the camera lens, so the mirror is a good start.
5. If you have a home video camera, ask a friend to video your practice sessions. You will see odd mannerisms or other nonverbal movements that are irritating to watch. By cleaning up your act in practice, you will be ready for the professional video. Being prepared also means less recording time which keeps down the cost.
6. When the camera rolls, amateurs usually speak too fast. Slow down. The dean or committee reviewing your video will not replay it repeatedly to get your points. You have ONE chance, make certain they understand what you say.
7. Avoid cute, clever or funny. Only in Hollywood would Elle Woods pool video persuade Harvard to admit her. The MSNBC story gives example of a man who was attempting to show his hobby and have the interviewer draw an insight from it. Bad move. What you find humorous, the dean may find offensive.
If you want to see examples of the good, the bad and the ugly of video resumes, surf around YouTube.
One more important thing to remember, close the video with a typed slide that has your name, email, contact information, and brief credentials.
Teaching Online from New York City!
During a whirlwind week in NYC for debut of my novel at Book Expo of America, I continued to teach two online classes. With my laptop, I checked into classes in the morning from Starbucks on Times Square and later from our high rise apartment, 34 floors above the city that never sleeps (and never gets quiet).
Yet another advantage of online teaching is that I could take a week to participate in this amazing opportunity as my book was featured in the New Title Showcase. When I travel, I send photos and updates to my students. They enjoy my adventures knowing that I will be as attentive to the class regardless of my current location on Google maps.
A JOLT for Online Teachers
Learn more about how to effectively teach online and share your ideas with others in JOLT - the Merlot Journal of Online Teaching. This free, open source publication welcomes ideas from online instructors to improve our craft. For newcomers or those seeking to break into online teaching jobs, this is a great way to learn what's currently happening in the field. From applications of learning theory to instructional design to use of multimedia in the online teaching environment, you can learn from those who have real world experience with online teaching jobs.
JOLT is published in March, June, September and December. To avoid missing an issue, register for a free subscription. Also on the JOLT site are guidelines for authors to submit articles. The site is : http://jolt.merlot.org (copy and paste in your browser). There is also a fascinating live map showing the location around the world of the next person who accesses the site.
Voice Email is not an oxymoron
Back in the early online days, email was the hot communication tool. For many purposes it still has value. When getting the attention of your students, go one step beyond print . Look within your online system for the correct tool. In Blackboard, it's a simple push of a button and you are recording the voice email message.
Voice email can be used as:
1. A reminder of assignment due dates or important projects
2. A gentle nudge to get students who are running close to the deadline to respond
3. Sending a review of an assignment to each student individually
4. Recommending a video that you just found on TV news, YouTube or other source which relates to the class material
5. Encourage a student who needs motivation
6. Inform a student that he or she is in danger of failure without completing assignments
7. Congratulate students who present exceptional work
Voice email is best when it sounds natural. If you are intimidated when the mic is on, make a few notes. Definitely do not read prepared remarks. Unless you are a professional newscaster, you will sound like you are reading which is received as impersonal and phoney, the exact opposite of what you want to accomplish with voice email.
Keyword search for Online Teaching Jobs
Save time and target your search for online teaching jobs by borrowing techniques from internet marketers. You want to be specific enough to avoid wasting time yet broad enough to find new opportunities.
Think of this like online library research. You begin with a keyword in mind. Clever researchers know to look at the other "search terms" for different ways to find the same information. The approach for an online search is the same. A keyword is a search term.
Start with a notepad, hot latte or tea, quiet place to think and begin to brainstorm. Write down every possible combination of words that could point you toward an online teaching job. Then take the top 5 and expand them further. Here's an example:
Online teaching BA degree
Online teaching distance BA degree
Online teaching BA history
Online teaching BA American history
Keep expanding these descriptions which become your "keyword search" items.
If you want to teach other levels, have that information in your keywords. For example:
Online teaching high school
Online teaching high school honors
Online teaching high school AP qualified
Multiple keyword phrases take time to search and you will find some cross-over in the results. Keep an electronic card file (or paper card file) of your searches, dates resume sent and any followup needed.
The keyword search may seem time consuming at first, but it's more efficient than hours on holding on the phone.
Certification courses for online teaching jobs
Go ahead and skip this class
With the popularlity of online classes beware of spending money on certification courses. There are credible colleges as well as internet based organizations (with unknown academic connections) offering "Certification Courses in Online Teaching". The pitch is that you will be ahead of the pack by taking these courses.
WRONG! Every undergraduate or graduate program with an online faculty does its own training. You are never asked to pay for the training, however you do have to complete the course before you get hired. While there is no cash outlay, there is a time cost to you.
In my online teaching experience with several schools, the training time ranges from two weeks to nine weeks. You are typically placed in a mock course in which you experience being both student and instructor. A training instructor gives assignments intended to develop your skills with the online system and monitor how effectively you manage assignments.
For example, after watching a tutorial on how to post a course announcement, you will be asked to write and post an announcement. If you know how to email, attach, download and manage a course calendar, you can learn the rest. But if you have little to no online skills, don't bother applying for any online teaching jobs.
Expect to have a "big brother" or "big sister", another instructor who monitors your first course. That's a great protection for you to prevent doing something disastrous like deleting the gradebook.
Even if you have prior online teaching experience, you will be asked to complete their training. That's why taking an outside certification course is wasted money. Frankly, colleges and universities don't care about a certification course, they care that you pass their training.
So focus your time on contacting colleges and universities and applying to teach as an online adjunct. Class schedules are made early. Start at least one semester ahead to secure the best online teaching jobs.
Need teaching ideas? Ask your students
The final discussion board for all my classes has an "Ask the Experts" question. I have gleaned valuable ideas from my students on how to make my online classes more interactive and useful in their professional development.
This is different than the Faculty Evaluation that comes from the university. When I ask students for their suggestions, I get great ideas. Does this give a student the forum to be mean spirited? Yes, however in three years of using this approach only one student was sarcastic. Before I read it, several class members countered him more strongly than I could have done.
Yes, I have implemented ideas and been pleased with the result. The best idea was to add Podcasts with further explanation on short reports and the final research project. Frankly, I said the same thing in my podcast that was written in the assignment directions. The difference is that the podcasts were a tremendous help to students who are auditory learners.
Below you can read what I post in my request for student input:
Students, I am currently reading new texts about online teaching in an effort to constantly bring the latest and best learning approaches to my classes. Suddenly I realized that I have access to a group of "experts" in online learning, YOU. Would you kindly help me by sharing your ideas on these questions:
1. What learning approaches do you like most in online learning? (for example, discussions, projects, web reports, etc)
2. What learning approaches do you find least effective in this or any online class?
3. If the instructor set up a monthly live(real time) online chat for open discussion, would you like this? If your schedule allowed, would you participate? (Any real time event would be optional)
I will appreciate your ideas.
So you see, the "ask and you shall receive" approach still works.
How college rankings lead to online teaching jobs
Online education programs with the best rankings and popularity are growing programs and for you, that means new opportunities for online teaching jobs. Granted, it can be like sports where everyone claims to be #1. How do you know what is hype and what is a useful rating?
First measure of value is accreditation. A college or university that is REGIONALLY ACCREDITED (one of the big 6) offers programs that qualify students for graduate training, professional licensure,highest prestige and potential to teach in the better colleges and universities. For example, in my field (Counseling Psychology), only a regionally accredited degree makes it possible for a student to achieve license at masters or doctoral level.
Second measure of value is enrollment. Students, particularly adult students, vote with their checkbooks. Since such a large percentage of online students are adults returning to school to start or complete degrees, they are not passive consumers. When a program does not meet their quality expectations, they transfer.
Third measure of value is overall school ratings. Take a look at www.geteducated.com This site gives annual ratings on the Best Buys, Best Student Satisfaction and Best Public Perception. Before applying for online teaching jobs, this is a great site to surf and find out more about the schools you are considering. You can search by degree specialty for your field.
P.S. What does this photo have to do with online teaching jobs? That's me attending the Alpha Omicron Pi Sorority convention in Tampa. I love this motto because educators do make a difference in the lives of students. My flexible schedule with online teaching jobs makes a difference in my life, allowing me to take a day off for something special like a sorority convention.
Faculty evaluations without panic
At the end of each term, you receive an evaluation based on student surveys and your faculty supervisor's assessment. You definitely want to pay attention to these since you career may depend on it. Of course, there is often that one student who Socrates could not please and that student spews verbal "hemlock" on you.
Don't get frantic over it. I have read evaluations in which twenty students think I'm the best online teacher in the universe and two think my class was awful (or too hard, or too insistent on deadlines). Take what is useful and leave the rest.
Even if a student rallies a few friends to trash you in the end-of-course evaluation, you can proactively neutralize this. At the first sign of a problem student, send the student's email and your response to your faculty supervisor. Let your supervisor know early on that this student is challenging your authority, complaining about grades and wants special treatment (usually for a trivial excuse). Here's also where you find out how much your faculty supervisor and your university backs up your authority in the class. Granted if you are wrong (i.e., miscalculated a grade), admit it to the student, make the correction and move on. But if you are correct, you want to work with a supervisor and university who supports you. Watch out for schools that lean over backwards to keep student fees over academic integrity.
The good news about teaching online is that you miss the weekly eye rolling, text messaging and under-breath joke telling that our on-campus colleagues experience. Classroom teaching is not any easier; try it and you will see. Plus you had to drive in traffic, find a parking spot in crowded lot and get tapped for a dull committee. Meanwhile, the online faculty did the 30 step commute still in warm jammies and sipping coffee.
Adjuncts are contract workers who are basically only as good as their last class. This may be more scrutiny than tenured professors receive, but so what, if you are there to do an excellent job then it's no big deal. Frankly, students deserve online faculty who are constantly making the effort to improve the distance learning experience.
So never fear those evaluations - - look on it as your time to shine. And here's a bonus you can count on - adjuncts with consistently good evaluations are the go-to people who will have as many classes as they want.
Introducing Mr. Checkers
In this lens you have met my "graduate assistants", Par and Star (scan below for their photos. A few months ago our beloved 12 year old Star (Sun Conure) died. We rescued this frightened one year old bird from a violent home and with our loving care she became the example of her only words, "Sweet bird".
As a family we agreed to wait for another "rescue bird" to join Par, our 13 year old cockatiel. We intended on getting another parrot but a tiny face tugged at our hearts from the SPCA bulletin. My daughter Kelly and I went to see this bird and instantly fell in love with Checkers. This 5 month old parakeet was among a flock taken from an unscrupulous breeder.
His personality is so big and bold that we call him, Mr Checkers. He is learning to balance on my shoulder while I work. So here is my newest "assistant".
WIMBA: Playing with Blocks Online Style
Blackboard system kicks it up a notch with WIMBA. Technically speaking, WIMBA's user guide refers to the "building blocks" in this expanded system which includes podcasting, voice email and narrated presentation option. Engage the full WIMBA Classroom and you have the closest thing to actually being present with your online class. WIMBA takes Blackboard to new levels for online communication. It also gives the potential to allow students to feel less isolated and more like part of a class.
Like all technical upgrades, WIMBA takes some practice. It's certainly better to have the features under one system. Now we all just have to get up to speed and get our students excited about it.
What's Your Favorite System?
Choose the online learning system that you like best
Basic Equipment for Online Teaching Jobs
Online teaching jobs require hours sitting at the computer. That means you must have certain basics to survive.
1. Desktop computer with minimum 17" flat screen monitor - Invest in a good quality monitor, you'll save money in eye care.
2. Laptop computer - your choice. I am wild about my Averatec laptop with titanium case; weighs less than my purse and easy to carry. Larger laptops have higher resolution monitors but you pay for it in weight.
OR get a docking station for your laptop to plug into a larger flat screen monitor.
3. Ergonomic chair - Don't get a cheap chair, your back will suffer and your patience wear thin. My Relax the Back store chair that cost over a thousand dollars is worth every penny. Whatever your budget, test the chair in a store rather than order online.
4. Task lighting - Nothing better than my full spectrum light bulb, purchased 8 years ago at a local health food store. New low wattage, low heat bulbs are good choices. Both are better than the high price of halogyn bulbs.
5. Music - load your favorite background music onto your computer or buy a cheap CD player.
6. 1 Gig flash drive for each college or university - Separating files by school helps organize and makes finding materials easier.
7. Bluetooth device for your cell phone to talk hands free while at your computer.
8. Headset with microphone to plug into a USB port. Again, the headset gives you hands free talk time, works great with Skype and allows you to record voice overs for powerpoint or other lessons for your online students.
9. Old faithful work outfit - Everyday in online teaching is casual day: shorts with tees for the spring, sweats for winter.
10. And then you need good associates. Online teaching jobs don't provide the luxury of graduate students to order around. My associates are more faithful and work for peanuts, literally. Par, a cockatiel, and Star, a Sun Conure, are my working buddies. You won't find better help anywhere.
Staying Ahead of the Cheaters
Do online students have more opportunities to cheat than face-to-face students? Frankly, no. Both groups find ways to cheat. The best way to control cheating is so simple it's almost laughable but here it is. . . you control cheating in an online class by giving unique, targeted assignments. If you assign the same research paper over and over or choose broad topics, you make cheating easy.
Control cheating while enhancing the learning experience by giving students more involvement in developing the topic. Set parameters, then let them propose a thesis and research for your approval. When students can research an aspect of the subject that they find interesting, they tend to produce a better product and actually enjoy the assignment.
Most colleges and universities use Turnitin to check for plagiarism. Use it and don't be wimpy about turning in suspected cheaters. Or be subtle as I am with a large print statement in every syllabus: Dr Erwin has ZERO TOLERANCE for Plagiarism so expect an automatic ZERO. But grading is like parenting, don't say it unless you mean it. Ignore cheating and word gets around that you are easy. Confront cheating and the word gets around that you are serious about academic integrity. That's your best defense against online cheating.
Class Content - Keep it Fresh
You know that feeling when you order a crisp salad only to be served limp lettuce and dull vegetables that look nothing like the photo on the menu. That's the way students feel when they enter your online class and get stale leftovers from prior semesters. Online teaching is an opportunity to be current, active and relevant with learning.
Granted, the basic course material and text can remain the same, yet you can enliven the learning environment by adding new content each term. Change the discussion questions. Encourage use of Powerpoint or video for student assignments. Add your own podcast or video explaining a project.
Post a link to a news story that illustrates a point or becomes a springboard for discussion.
It's easy to copy the last course into the next term and let it run. Don't do that! When you keep your courses fresh and unpredictable, you'll attract more students, make it more enjoyable for you and improve your ratings that secure your online teaching jobs.
Quick Way into Online Teaching
If you missed getting an online teaching assignment, there's another way in. Many students register for classes at the last minute, so enrollments change radically. I just received an email from one school with a higher than expected enrollment in a core class. So the dean is scrambling to find more instructors.
Whether you are an adjunct or waiting for your first adjunct online assignment, check in with your dean now and again the week after class starts. Large classes are divided as late as the first week. Popular classes with enough waiting list become a second section (that happened with my Family Violence undergrad class this term).
How do you benefit? Let the dean know that you are willing to step in at the last minute and take a class. Not everyone is, so this could literally send you "to the head of the class". Be available. By helping the dean out of this crisis now, you build huge personal capital that translates into a regular online class assignment.
Dress Code for Online Teaching Jobs
What you see is my favorite part of online teaching - working in my fuzzy leopard slippers. The "dress code" is whatever you want it to be. I get home from the gym and go right to work online in my yoga pants and tee shirt. In the summer, I work in shorts or by the pool. In the winter, I change to sweat suits. My "all weather" leopard slippers go with everything.
Teaching online is a money saving job:
No dry cleaning suits. No worries about gas prices. No time stuck in traffic during the morning commute. No wasting money and calories hitting the snack machine.
You might say online teaching jobs are healthy, safe and efficient. It's a work style as comfortable as my leopard slippers.
Be Prepared to Prove Your Credentials
Every accredited college or university demands that you prove your credentials for teaching in their program. The diploma on your wall looks great but don't bother to make a copy of it. That's not acceptable. Only an OFFICIAL transcript will do.
UGH, it can take weeks to get a transcript sent from some institutions. Meanwhile the online job is filled and you are waiting another semester to get hired.
Here's how to avoid that problem: Order 3 Official sealed transcripts from every college or university you attended. These will be in envelopes with a signature written or stamped across the seal area. When you use the last set, order 3 more of each.
Once again, I saw the value of this approach in applying for an adjunct online teaching position. Because I had Official Transcripts to send with the application papers, I moved to quickly thru the process. If you want to teach online, be ready to prove that you can do the job.
Podcasting for Your Online Classes
The Net Gen are young adult college students who find more joy in learning when "wired" than in the pages of textbooks. I don't just mean filled with Starbucks double shots, I'm talking about their affinity for MP3 players and Ipods. Why let your generation gap show? Use those preferred communication tools to help your online students be more successful on major assignments.
Get with Podcasting! Whether your college or university has a separate ITunes site or you post it to your own site, podcasting is simple and highly effective. The key is keep it short and focused. The best podcasts are 5 - 10 minutes on a single subject. This is NOT for lectures. Frankly with so many fantastic teaching options for online classes, why would you lecture? UGH
How to Find Online Teaching Jobs
Part 1 - Get Prepared
Online education is no longer limited to a few pioneers. From the newbies to traditional universities, online learning is growing and so is the need for faculty. So how do you get a job teaching online? You have to:
1. Meet same standards as classroom faculty which is at least an earned Masters (with 18 hours in your field) or earned Doctorate if you want to teach graduate classes
2. Have prior teaching experience in a classroom. Learning how to teach while also learning online systems is too steep of a curve at once. That's why many colleges and universities only give online teaching jobs to instructors known to be effective teachers in classroom first.
3. If you have no prior classroom teaching experience, get it before you apply online. Start at the community college, just be able to show teaching experience.
4. Prepare a resume that can be posted inside an online application box. That means takes out the fancy lettering and formatting. Keep it simple.
5. Talk with instructors who teach online and in classroom. They can tell you about the differences, the adaptations needed and the mindset change for online teaching jobs.
You have to be ready when the opportunity presents. Start by reading Dr. Babb's excellent book, see Fantastic Resource for Newcomers to Online Teaching in this blog.
How to Get Online Teaching Jobs
Part 2 - Find Options
Find online teaching jobs by making these connections:
1. Local colleges and universities that have courses in your field. Many have online classes both for distant students and campus students.
2. Here's a fast look at variety of online teaching options. Do a web search for universities with online classes. You will likely find Argosy University, Everglades University, Tulane University, University of Florida, University of Phoenix and many others. Surf around each school and look for the Human Resources or Hiring link for application information.
3. Growing in popularity is online tutoring for high school and college-university level.
4. Make note of advertisements for online programs that you find in print media. Find the school online and contact by email.
5. College Fairs - Attend a college fair for high school students. Ask the representative at each booth about the online programs and request a contact name.
E-Tutor - Breaking into Online Teaching Jobs
Along with online teaching jobs comes a demand for E-tutors. If you have teaching experience in K-12 grades or college/university, you can find good part time tutoring work online. This is really great for teachers with young children, allowing you to make money working from home as an E-tutor.
Here are places to apply that need E-tutors:
Smartthinking.com Looking for part-time E-structors in math, reading, social sciences, accounting, economics, writing, and more. Check the web site for current jobs.
Tutor.com K-12 subjects and homework help
eSylvan.com This division of Sylvan Learning is fully online help for grades 3-9.
These are just a few of an expanding market for online tutors. If you are uncertain about teaching in a virtual environment, this is a great way to start.
Are Online Teaching Jobs Harder than Classroom Teaching?
To say I teach online is to hear the expected comments, "how can you develop rapport with students" and "doesn't the lack of face to face make online teaching jobs much harder."
The answers are "yes" and "no", respectively.
YES - An online instructor can develop rapport with a class by making the virtual environment intellectually stimulating. Students recognize your energy, preparation and love of learning whether face to face or online. Blackboard and other online systems have so many options for adding data, video, narrated power points, surveys and most every tool you want to enrich the class can be used online. Students appreciate the "extras". Just as in face to face, students know if you are engaged in their learning experience or if you are a merely phoning it in.
NO - Lack of face to face contact does not make online teaching jobs harder. Good teaching is good teaching, in class, online or standing on a hillside like Plato and Aristotle. The hardest part of online teaching is conquering the technology. You have the command module and your actions control the class access. Expect to make a few errors in the learning curve. Even after completing the practice "Sandbox Course", it takes most of us a few classes to become fully comfortable with the system. If you make an error, call technical support and find out how to fix it. Students struggle with learning the system as well and are generally understanding when you explain that you made a technical error and it's fixed now.
Here's another way to stand-out as an online instructor: contribute meaningfully to the discussion boards as you would in a classroom discussion. Students really like to see you participate with them. Online teaching jobs are for TEACHERS, not for attendance recorders and paper graders. Yes, you have to do those tasks but active teaching is job #1. Turnover in some disciplines for online teaching jobs is high because not every classroom teacher adapts well to the virtual environment. If you do, college and university job opportunities may open to you faster than waiting for a traditional classroom position.
Time Saving "Must Have Skill" for Online Teaching
An absolute "must have skill" for success with online teaching jobs is speed reading. Without speed reading, you will spend hours longer than necessary and begin to hate turning on the computer everyday.
Thanks to my undergraduate training at Eckerd College, I was required to pass a minimum level of reading. I passed then became intrigued with the reading lab programs and participated voluntarily. That was one of my better 18 year old decisions!
Reading at over a thousand words per minute was a blessing for graduate school, business and teaching both online and in class.
Don't wait, start now. Poor readers and distracted readers often read too slow! Increasing reading speed to the level that your brain processes is more efficient, improves retention and saves times.
As you apply for online teaching jobs, get ready by taking a speed reading class.
Are Online Teaching Jobs Just for Techies?
Emphatically "no", online teaching jobs are not just for techies or I would not be teaching online. Each online teaching job functions in a particular environment such as Blackboard (a popular user-friendly choice). Part of the introductory process is a series of tutorials and a practice class with a mentor.
You begin with a "sandbox course" where you learn to manipulate the tabs, add content, create a quiz, set upgrade book, post to discussion boards and prepare content. These are tasks you do for face-to-face classes, only this time with your mouse instead of papers.
When I say you do not have to be an IT major to teach online, you do need basic computer skills. If "cut and paste" eludes you, at least get up to speed on word processing, email and spreadsheets. Practice posting a blog here at Squidoo to get over any internet fears.
The college or university gives specific requirements for your computer hardware. Here's something equally important:you will be online for long periods, so buy the best large flat screen monitor that you can afford. Laptops are for travel and mobility. Your desktop computer with a high resolution monitor is the best choice when working long periods.
And please, treat yourself to a comfortable chair and desk at appropriate height for keyboarding! Getting back aches and carpal tunnel syndrome from poorly arranged office is bad news for online teaching jobs.
Foot in the Electronic Door
My Daddy said, "getting a foot in the door puts you closer to the job you want rather than waiting outside for the ideal opportunity."
That advice secured my first job. I confidently marched into the most prestigious radio/tv station in Memphis and said I would fill in for any job over the summer, no promises, no benefits expected. Once I had a "foot in the door" and showed my skills, I worked most of that summer and the next. That experience led to a full time job in Florida and the beginning of a wonderful ten year career in radio/television news.
So what does this have to do with online teaching? Everything, if you apply the concept. What I am suggesting is that full time or tenure academic positions are becoming harder to obtain. Colleges and Universities learned the business value of hiring more adjuncts than full timers.
Here's how you turn this into a win-win situation for you and the college/university. Apply to teach online as your "electronic foot in the door". Why online? Because not every classroom teacher can transition effectively to the online classroom. PLUS - - the Net Generation of younger college students LOVE ONLINE CLASSES. That demand means more online teaching jobs every year.
Once you are teaching online, you build credibility, show your dependability and get the inside track to hear about full time positions.
Realize that you might be surprised at the flexibility and freedom enjoyed by those of us who value our online teaching jobs.
If you are currently in a full time job with the desire to transition to teaching, then online teaching jobs are perfect for you. Without giving up your day job and benefits, you gain teaching experience.
And one more secret you need to know: colleges and universities want instructors to have skills to teach online and in the classroom.
Train for Online Teaching Jobs
Its a chicken v. egg problem: how to get online teaching jobs without being in a university system. Here is an option from a reputable group. The Sloan Consortium offers training for online teaching. For newcomers, this might be useful to place your resume ahead of other adjunct applicants. This training is broad based. You will still need to train on the appropriate LMS (Learning Management System) for the college or school. This training also gives you a sense of how the process works compared with traditional face-to-face campus classes.
Even in traditional colleges and universities, more classes are moving to the blended model; some face to face time on campus and some time online. If you are already in a campus teaching job, this is the right time to enhance your skills for online teaching jobs.
Would you spend a minute sharing your ideas about online teaching job? Or post a question, something that you want to know.