As online education becomes more popular, experienced educators are finding more opportunities to become online instructors. They can prepare by completing a training program.
Reasons to Become an Online Instructor
Distance learning courses have become common in colleges and universities across the country. Both working students and professionals opt to participate, taking advantage of the flexible scheduling and convenience of a mobile education.
The instructors of these courses and programs can benefit as well, often enjoying equally flexible work schedules and the opportunity to design and deliver instruction in a new, non-traditional format. The ability to teach both online and in a classroom can help demonstrate a teacher's versatility in the field.
Online instructors are required to have the same teaching credentials and state licenses as on-campus teachers and professors, and they often share the same level of interaction with students as classroom teachers. Various training programs are available for aspiring online instructors to help them make the transition from the classroom to the e-learning environment.
Growth in Online Education
The 2014 Sloan Consortium Survey of Online Learning revealed that enrollment for online education increased by nearly 3.7% from 2013-2014. The survey also found that over 5 million students are enrolled in at least one distance education course.
Since 2000, the trend has been spreading to K-12 classes, with every state planning or participating in some form of virtual education. Reasons for this shift to online teaching may include:
- A more convenient avenue for education
- Flexibility to deter high school dropout rates
- Beneficial tutoring to struggling students
- Standardized nationwide curricula for K-12 teaching
- Lower costs for employers, parents and taxpayers
Availability of Online Educator Training Programs
Several colleges and organizations around the country offer training and certificate programs for online instructors. These programs are aimed at experienced, licensed teachers, so it is important to note that they do not provide the required education for state licensure. Classes often include presentations of peer-reviewed courses, an introduction to the online Blackboard application and development of an online curricula and materials.
Programs range in length from one to several months and vary in cost from free to hundreds of dollars. Most can be completed entirely online. The U.S. Department of Education also offers Ready to Teach grants for educators to improve the state of online teaching and content.
Because of the flexibility and increasing prevalence of online education, teachers may want to enroll in a training program to prepare to expand their careers into this kind of instruction.