Why are so many teachers, professionals and subject matter experts becoming members of the online teaching community? The motives are many and they are both personal as well as professional reasons. Let’s look at several . . .
- Online teaching allows for 24/7 access to class materials, online classrooms etc. This allows part time instructors with full time jobs the ability to perform their teaching duties at their convenience.
- Using the internet as a classroom provides the instructor the ability to conduct classes with students from across multiple time zones, without having to travel. Because of this, smaller specialized classes are more likely to have enough students to be feasible. This allows instructors more opportunities to teach and is especially valuable for training offered by professional organizations.
- The online environment aids in some of the more sensitive areas of classroom administration. Online assignment posting areas provides a secure and time documented avenue for turning in assignments. Servers that retain chat session and newsgroup documentation provide indisputable records of class participation for both volume and quality. This reduces the hassles associated with face to face instruction.
- Online instructors working for organizations whose libraries have electronic collections have 24/7 access to business research, online journals and magazines and often online or e-books. These are valuable resources, not just for course delivery, but also for the instructor’s other professional endeavors and personal growth.
- Online institutions typically offer continuing education sessions throughout the year, providing facilitators and trainers opportunities for skill enhancement in areas such as providing feedback, problem based learning, handling difficult students, and critical thinking. These sessions are almost always held online, and can be attended at the convenience of the instructor. This is in addition to faculty tips, bulletins and other memos that are sent to faculty and retained in online newsgroups.
- These institutions also hold their faculty meetings online, keeping records in newsgroups that can be accessed after the meeting. This helps keeps faculty on track with what’s new with the organization.
- Most universities that have an online presence offer their facilitators and instructors, even those that are part-time a substantial tuition discount. These can be used to take course of general interest or to obtain an advanced or additional degree.
- The online environment provides an opportunity for community that surpasses those for on the ground instructors. Online Faculty Lounges exist for facilitators from all over the globe to informally chat, ask advice, allow venting and provide counsel on topics ranging from dealing with plagiarism to computer problems and difficult student issues.
- Lounges also exist to bring together teachers of like topics. Newsgroups by subject matter such as strategy, accounting, operations management etc., allow teachers of the same course to share ideas, fix course problems and collaborate to provide new and improved courses.
- Many online institutions are specifically looking for business people to teach their online courses. This strategy brings practical experience to the students. This approach, combined with the online environment that can be accessed from anywhere in the world, makes it possible for more people to teach and earn extra income.
- Because online classes are structured to compel discussion from all students, a teacher can see immediately if the student does not comprehend the material. Immediate, private correction can be made, putting the student back on course. In traditional environments the problems might not be uncovered until a major test or a major paper has been failed. This was a good bit of frustration and failure can be avoided.
- For many online institutions, the coursework for each class has been standardized and posted on a course website. Recommended assignments and grading rubrics are pre-developed as are class overviews/lectures. This simplifies the work of the instructor a great deal and they can focus on bring practical experience to the class and not worry about lesson plans and reading assignments.
- Many of the organizations that offer internet based education consider their teachers employees. As such they offer certain employee benefits such as stock purchase programs, stock option awards and 401k savings plans, providing tax deferred savings opportunities that would not otherwise be available. Other benefits offered include special employee purchase programs for personal computers and wireless communications plans.
As you can see, online teachers enjoy their roles for a number of reasons, some of them are financial, some are personal, and some are professional. However, all of them are significant reasons for becoming educators in the cyber world