Online Teaching Pitfalls
Are you planning on going into online teaching? Do you know what pitfalls you are likely to find along the way? After more than three years in teaching as an adjunct in online teaching jobs, and having taught for several online schools, I am aware of many online teaching pitfalls.
The first task you have before you is to search for a job opening. The truth is that like most areas, online teaching jobs are becoming scarce. Administrators are laying off adjunct teachers and consolidating classes, so that what used to be classes maxing at 10-15, there are progressively more classes maxing at 30-40. Even more consolidation is seen in the number of courses taught in auditoriums which will seat hundreds of students. Most instructors find it difficult and minimally effective to carry out interactive teaching in these large classes. One has to be an expert lecturer and use lots of multidimensional videos. For some, this may be a pitfall; for those comfortable with media, this may be a boon.
The Search for Online Schools: Avoiding Online Teaching Pitfalls
It is true that you can find lists of online schools published by University of Texas and other institutions. but whether you want to teach those interested in an online bachelor of nursing degree, bachelor degree in online psychology, or online criminal justice schools, you still need to research each school to find out how you will be expected to use your expertise in computer skills and how you will be expected to organize your instruction.
On this latter point-the organization of the curriculum and the flow and organization of instruction-it may come as a surprise that most online programs provide the entire course including all the curriculum as an organized package. You will find that all the assignments have been organized for each week, providing the lectures, interactive processes, policies, communication. For those who want to organize their own courses, there is little left to show your creativity. About the only way you can use your creativity is in the discussion forum, where you respond to the student directly. So, it is good to find out how the school for which you have applied has organized the curriculum and just what will be your responsibility. Most online schools have charts available that show exactly what you must do and what you must not do. Knowledge and understanding of the curriculum is a must to avoid online teaching pitfalls. You will be required to study the platform and how to navigate it.
Usually, you will be assigned a mentor so that if you get stuck and need to know something, help is closer than your elbow. Be aware, however, that the mentor assigned you may not know all the information you need, so be prepared to ferret out the information on your own or If you detect an inconsistency in the curriculum, report it to your mentor and if they do not know what to do, there is usually an alert link to research and they will research the question for you and report back to you.
Here is a task that many consider a pitfall built into online teaching. You cannot miss two consecutive days of being absent from your class. Most online classes are asynchronous, so you have 24-48 hrs. to respond to a student's question. You do not have to call roll; role is taken automatically. This means, however, that big brother is watching you and your students. You are immersed in a digital reality and administration can calculate how many times you have responded and the nature of your response, how many times you have led discussions, how many times you have called on class members and whom, etc. etc. This is the nature of online schools, no matter which one you choose. The student can leave a message for you in email or in Ask the Professor and you must respond within 24-48 hrs. It may be optional for you to give out your phone number, but if you must, please be aware of the laws covering home calling. You may run up against a domestic dispute...the wife is taking a class; her husband does not know and if he knew he would not like it. He does not like your calling his home getting information about a course she is taking and which he knows nothing about. And he is paying for the course! You may find yourself involved in a legal matter. If you must communicate with your student outside of class, use the email route or even better, respond on Ask the Professor.
Online Teaching Pitfalls Show up in Class Assignments and Pay
You will have a contact for class assignments weeks before you get your first assignments. Usually, you will be assigned to teach only one class for the first couple of assignments, then you will gradually take over two or three classes. The problem is that you have no way of knowing if you are to get one class, two or three classes. You could end up with three or zero, but in the meantime you have the option of waiting to see if two or more classes materializes, or if you should teach other classes at perhaps a different university. Most of the online colleges wait for the last minute to fill the classes. In fact, some will let in students up to three weeks after the class starts. So if you are a potential instructor, you are left hanging. Also, it may be quite a while before you hear from the schools to which you have applied. You need to keep sending out CV's and realize that part of this process is a numbers game. Keep sending. Do not just sit and wait.
Now to the matter of pay. You are supposed to get paid every two weeks, but stay alert for holidays. You may have to wait through the holidays to get your paycheck. I have taught for one school that was late in paying by automatic deposit and when I reported it, they sent me an overnight paper check...which would not have been so bad except that it was shoved under my door while I was not home without any prior agreement about this procedure. You will need to be aware that some of these fiascoes will happen. Clarify everything and keep copies. This is your defense against online teaching pitfalls. To make extra money on line, follow these tips.
Of course, online adjunct faculty positions allow the online adjunct instructor to dramatically increase the amount of income generated from college and university teaching because the academic work required by adjunct faculty jobs online is entirely on the Internet. When a prospective online adjunct instructor masters the use of an inexpensive personal computer, it is likely that the online adjunct professor will be able to quickly acquire multiple adjunct online teaching positions, which will collectively add up to a considerable amount of online adjunct income each month. Ultimately, it will be possible to teach full time online for multiple online college degree programs and earn a decent living from online college courses.