What does it take to be a good online instructor? There are definitely qualities and abilities in instructors that truly empower students to have a rich online learning experience. I've boiled it down to a list of six qualities. These can be helpful to review if you are an online instructor yourself, or if you are helping faculty develop good online teaching skills.
1. A good online instructor is comfortable with technology.
You don’t have to be an expert. You just have to be comfortable with the idea of technology, and willing to get your feet wet.
2. A good online instructor clearly articulates expectations for students.
Students know how to act and what is expected of them in a classroom. In an online class, you have to spell it out for them. Be clear about what kind of behavior and participation you expect in order for them to succeed.
3. A good online instructor guides learners through student-led activities.
Online learning requires students to lead themselves through the content. It is up to you to create instruction and activities that empower them to do so.
4. A good online instructor responds to students’ needs in a timely way.
This does not mean you have to be online 24/7, answering emails and questions the minute they come in. But it just means you are consistent, you have a pattern, and your students can count on hearing back from you in a reasonable amount of time.
5. A good online instructor manages time efficiently.
Teaching online brings flexibility, but also requires discipline. Setting aside time to work on your course and keep up with feedback ensures that time won’t get away from you.
6. A good online instructor is willing to do it all over again.
Experienced authors say there is no such thing as good writing, just good rewriting. The same could be said about online course development. You’ll do everything you can to make it good the first time. Then, you’ll take what you learned and make it great the next time. Good curriculum design is an iterative process.
Think about these qualities, and how you can maintain the ones that you feel are your strengths, and improve on those that are more of a challenge. Doing so will definitely improve the courses you are involved with and create an even more rewarding experience for your students.