A Guide to Online Teaching
Every facet of our lives is rapidly changing. With technology rapidly innovating and massive global events like COVID-19, the drive toward a more remote-friendly world has impacted all industries. Work, romance, play, and education have all been affected by this mass migration.
Many teachers, both established teachers and those wanting to start a new career in education, are recognizing the potential of online teaching. COVID especially has forced online education to evolve to new frontiers. The benefits of moving education online are evident: more flexibility for students and teachers, increased access to education of all kinds, and a broader scope of knowledge available to teach and learn. Luckily, there are many avenues through which prospective teachers can launch their online teaching careers.
This article will clarify what exactly online teaching is in all its forms, the benefits for online teachers, what prospective teachers need to get started, and where they can explore their online teaching future.
What is online teaching?
Online teaching refers to any education that occurs online. This can range from receiving a programming degree to learning how to knit. As long as it’s taught and learned online, it’s considered an online education.
It does not, however, need to be only online. Some institutions and establishments use a hybrid model. This blended online and in-person model provides students and teachers a comfortable middle-ground for their education.
There are all kinds of positions available in online education. Tutors can help a student in another country learn English one hour per week, for example. On the other end of the spectrum, a professor may spend his entire week teaching mathematics to hundreds of students.
This relatively new education model has allowed a surge in freelance teachers into the market. This kind of flexibility is sought after by many. Whatever the hours given to education in whatever topic, online teaching revolves around the use of live classes through some form of video conferencing or webinar usage. There is, however, the exception of educators who choose to create their own courses consisting of “class recordings,” where a student is free to consume content on their own schedule without the teacher even being present.
Online teaching has many names and comes in various forms. To fill this need, there are numerous platforms and job boards available for educators to find the role that best suits them.
What are the benefits of online teaching?
While some miss the old days of teaching in a classroom much like some miss the real-world office, many are happy to make the switch. There are many good reasons for this choice in education. Here are the top six benefits of teaching online.
1) Freedom to choose whatever hours you want to teach or learn
Unless you’re an educator with a full-time schedule, freelancing your way through online teaching can give you lots of flexibility. Some people are at their best in the morning while others are night owls. Because of this, online teachers can choose whatever schedule works for them. This also allows many to benefit from, not be at the mercy of, being in different time zones from their students. With online teaching across time zones, the entire 24/7 schedule is wide open for teachers and students. This is especially true for educators who choose to teach using pre-recorded course models of education.
2) You have location freedom as an online teacher or learner
The most fascinating thing that online teaching has opened up for the world has been its ability to teach people in other countries. This not only makes things easier for teachers and students from a flexibility and choice standpoint, but also from the perspective of making the world a much more intimate place with cross-cultural learning happening without buying a plane ticket. Teachers can teach from anywhere and students can absorb their knowledge all across the globe. Now, teachers have access to a huge number of potential students while students have access to a wide selection of teachers.
In addition, for digital nomads who like to travel and work. Online teaching offers you the privilege of freely traveling while working to support yourself. So long as you have the basic equipment and a steady internet connection, you can teach online anytime.
3) A massive array of teaching and learning opportunities
Without barriers or restrictions, the amount of knowledge available is unlimited. Because the internet has created such diversified interests, hobbies, niches, and more, there is a huge market for even the most obscure of things. This applies to education, as well. Experts in these fields can finally connect with students who are eager to learn about their specialty. Additionally, teachers sharing this niche knowledge can find their market in ways that they couldn’t previously without online education being such a prominent thing.
4) Reduced upstart costs and expenditures
Teaching online requires less overhead. Whether that’s from an institution or an individual teacher, there’s no need to find a building or classroom where you’ll host your students. Previously, individuals would need to rent an office or venue and teach from there. Universities would need to buy large plots of land and construct a bunch of buildings for classrooms. Online teaching has negated that need. And like many things that have been innovated through the push toward remote, the need to travel is drastically reduced. This cuts down on travel-related costs. Coupled with everything being digital, this has had a significant and positive impact on the environment.
5) A unique and personalized experience for everyone
Online teaching allows a more personalized experience. Students can help navigate the learning experience through ample feedback made easy through digital tools. Communication through digital means has made the whole experience easier for many. With many lessons now taking place with fewer students at a time, the experience becomes much more intimate. Students online, especially single students at a time, are taking part in the direction of where the learning goes.
6) Teaching and learning from the comfort and safety of wherever you choose
An online learning experience allows students to feel a little more comfortable. They are free to open up a little more and ask the questions they need answered from the semi-anonymity of a question through a webcam or a chatbox. This is, of course, more applicable in one-to-one education. Combine this with students being able to attend classes in their pajamas and you get a very comfortable experience for any student. In the post-pandemic educational world, more and more people are prioritizing health and safety when it comes to their learning experience. In addition to a more comfortable teaching environment, online learning has created a safe way that students can gather to learn without placing themselves or others in harm’s way.
Online education has become the safest and healthiest option for our new normal. COVID-19 has driven the demand for online alternatives in education. While it’s still early, it’s safe to say that the pandemic has changed education forever.
How do I start teaching online?
If you’re looking to capitalize on the trend toward remote education, you may be wondering where to begin. This article merely serves to be a starting point on your online education journey. Be sure to spend ample time researching your desired career path.
Like all things, wondering where to begin often leads us to the beginning: what do you want exactly? The requirements to secure an illustrious tenure as an online university professor are a lot different than trying to start a side hustle giving French lessons on weekends.
Who is hiring online teachers? Well, mostly everyone. Traditional colleges, established online colleges, nonprofits, adult education centers, and tutoring companies are all looking for tutors to fill the growing demand for an online education. But that’s not all. While it’s easier to go the route of working for someone else, many online teachers are figuring out ways to work for themselves. Each has its own requirements and learning curves.
An advanced degree like a Master’s is usually required for a college-level position. Certain accreditations achieved through rigorous training are also often required. To teach at established universities, it’s best to join their organization and then see how you can integrate online teaching into your curriculum or within the predetermined modules. To become a tutor, whether that’s language or test prep, doesn’t always require an advanced degree.
What’s the most important requirement for an online teacher?
Despite the variety of requirements set forth by different kinds of education, there is something that everyone needs to have in order to be an online teacher. Online teachers need to have a full grasp of the technology they will be using to host or run their online classes or courses. This includes the video teaching platform technology as well as the backend systems for documents, grading, etc.
For most prospective teachers, it comes down to the same basics:
- Fulfill the requirements for whatever avenue you choose to pursue
- Study and practice in order to be the most capable teacher you can be
- Connect with your students and begin teaching
Where can I start my online teaching career?
Once you have all the qualifications to begin, here are a few places to find teaching jobs or to launch your own teaching business.
For the prospective teacher looking to provide online education to young students in the U.S.: K12
K12 provides online education for elementary through high school students in the U.S. It acts as an alternative to in-person schooling models and offers teachers a chance to teach numerous subjects to a wide age range all online.
For the upstart teacher who wants to create their own curriculum: Udemy
Udemy is a website full of courses covering all kinds of topics. Online teachers a.k.a. course creators can create a course in their area of expertise and share it with an audience. This can be used to create passive teaching income as well as funnel students into your classrooms elsewhere.
Teachable is another course creation platform with some distinctions. This platform rewards teachers with course revenue and allows teachers to focus on their areas of expertise, whether that’s cooking or coding.
For the language experts who want to share their knowledge around the world: VIPKid
VIPKid allows students from all around the world to rapidly learn English as a second language through full immersion. It requires zero language skills from their teachers besides English. VIPKid makes this experience easy for the teachers by creating lessons for the teachers to use with their students.
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