What advantages does an online faculty have over a traditional faculty? Actually, there are several advantages. The basic advantage is that online faculties are not restricted by space and time. In a traditional method of organization, the instructor meets her class in a particular room, at a particular time and on a particular campus. The online faculty member may travel far and wide, jogging between countries, but all the time, keeping up with her class via laptop. Moreover, she doesn't have to call attendance; this is done for her as the students electronically enter the classroom. She doesn't have to make out lesson plans; this is done for her. She does not have to average grades. Again, this is done for her. The downside is that she will have to master navigation on a new platform, but with her mentor at her side, this can be managed in the first class she teaches.
With all the foregoing advantages, we have not considered the financial domain. The online class yields twice as much money as the traditional 16 week class. The online classes last only 7.5 weeks and they are offered back to back.
When the new instructor signs on, she will see a monitor that is divided into sections that are color coded. They are panels representing the processes of the course. The course is not organized around the coverage of content; it is organized around movement from one panel to another. Let's take a look. The first panel is Announcements:
Here, urgent messages are posted. The instructor posts office hours and her policies on plagiarism and late submission of assignments. The administration may post weather reports of classes disrupted in other parts of the country. Or, the administration may post changes in the next term's offerings...changes that could affect every student's course of study.
A variety of assignments are given, such as submitting documented essays, observational journals, taking timed objective tests, demonstrations, participation in group discussions and research. The criteria of acceptable performance are expressed in a rubric.
The grades are electronically recorded and averaged. As such, the grades make a good basis upon which the instructor can organize conferences with the students. The grades are accessible to the instructor but the students may only see their grades, not their classmates.
Most conferences are held in private and are accessed in email, by telephone or in a private cell. Some conferences are public when there is contention between the instructor and student. Legal counsel may be called in.
Ask the Professor:
The student may at any time ask the instructor a question and expect a 24 hr. turnaround. The questions are posted so that all the students may read the dialogue between the student and instructor. If the questions require a tutoring response, then the instructor may recommend certain tutorials.
Most online programs have a number of useful tutorials. Grammar is a frequent request. Students sometimes get confused over the singular and plural of a noun or verb. They are confused by the intervention of a prepositional phrase. The APA style manual is used to organize and document research essays. To avoid plagiarism, the student is referred to Turnitin.com. This system compares the syntax and diction of a student essay with millions of like documents and generates a percentage of identical matches. The program has a built in online tour of the online library. These and other tutorials provide a supportive environment for the student.
This phase traces themes in the lesson studied. For example, the instructor throws out a theme and the students trace it. It could be a comparison between the online and traditional system. Each student contributes to this them, offering examples of each. The discussion could be about comparing traditional grammar with transformational grammar.
This phase is not graded. The purpose is to promote dialogue among students so that students share their ideas on both content and personal issues. The idea is to set the conditions for promoting bonding. This will give the students peer support beyond the course.
To be effective as an instructor, it is useful to think of yourself as a facilitator: not as a teacher in the usual sense. Above all, it is necessary that you learn to navigate the platform. The ultimate goal is not simply the storage of static knowledge, but the activation of student insight and contribution.
The instructor is supported by the fact that many of the functions of the traditional system are completed for the instructor in the online system. The entire curriculum is located symbolically online. The left column on the computer provides directions for the student. It tells the student what to do, whether it be reading or recording something, and when to submit their product.
If the student gets confused, the general directive is to go back to the left hand column and to make sure that all the steps have been followed. Also, it is a good idea to be on the lookout for drop boxes and pull down menus. If these are not noted and acted upon, the student can lose half of the course. If a student gets confused about navigation, there are tutorials available online and these tutorials give the student problems in navigating and feedback on correctness. There are also tutorials available for the instructor as well. These give the instructor pedagogical tips on using the navigation.
All you need to teach an online class is your laptop. No need for handouts, textbooks, or other teacher aids. Everything in the course is presented online and visible on your monitor. This means that you are not tied to one place; you may travel the globe and keep up with your course. Keep in mind too that you can double your income if you have been teaching offline. You will teach two courses online in the same time it takes to teach one traditional 16 week course. Try it.
The online teaching opportunities with accredited online bachelor degree programs and accredited online master's degree programs are growing daily. New and returning college, university and community college students like the idea of enrolling in online college courses form their personal computers. However, each of the thousands of online college classes needs a qualified online adjunct instructor teaching it. This means that the increase in online adjunct jobs will continue for many years. Teaching adjunct for online degree programs is the future of post-secondary instruction. Ultimate, the college teacher that makes the transition from the physical college classroom to the online college course in an online college degree programs will make a very nice living.