How to Teach College Classes Online

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Advances in technology have made it possible for students to learn and receive an education, regardless of where they are. It has also made it possible for teachers to be almost anywhere in the world when teaching a class. Online classes, though, are more time consuming for instructors than traditional, in-person classes, according to a research study published in the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration.

1 Meet the criteria

Meet the criteria to teach college classes online. Colleges and universities require instructors to have a minimum of a master’s degree in the subject area to teach classes online. Many also prefer to hire teachers that have previous teaching experience.

2 Attend a training session or class

Attend a training session or class for new online instructors. The distance learning department in each college and university traditionally offers some type of training or class for first-time online instructors. This helps you learn how to set up your online classroom and gives you the opportunity to ask any questions you might have.

3 Create your course information documents

Create your course information documents. Just as you would for a traditional class, you must create a course syllabus for your online class and upload it to your online classroom. It should list the objectives of the class, what students can expect to learn, dates and deadlines for the class and how students can reach you if they have problems or questions.

4 Plan your lessons

Plan your lessons and upload them to the lessons section of your classroom. Online classes tend to be more self-paced than in-person classes, since students can work on assignments and learn what they need to at any time. Even though you can’t lecture directly to the students you can still upload PowerPoint slides, videos and other instructional materials that you would use in a traditional classroom.

5 Develop your assignments and tests

Develop your assignments and tests. You have the option of posting all your assignments or tests at the beginning of the semester, or you can gradually release them at the time when students are completing particular lessons. Tests, quizzes and assignments can be set up with a time restriction on them which can shut the students out of the test or assignment if they take too long or miss the deadline of when they were to submit it. The method for doing this varies from one software program to another, but your distance learning department should be able to provide with you instructions for the program used on your campus.

6 Set up a message

Set up a message or discussion board if desired. Class discussion is important for some subjects, and a message board can allow students the opportunity to interact online. Instructors can pose questions for the class to discuss, or they can just encourage students to talk about the class and get feedback on lessons and assignments from their peers.

7 Teach the class

Teach the class. Once you have your online classroom set up, a large amount of the work is complete. However you still must be an active in the online classroom serving as the teacher and resource person for the students. Answering student questions, participating in classroom discussion via the message board, and grading assignments and tests are still things that need to be done throughout the length of the class to ensure both you and the students have a positive experience.

  • If you choose to hold virtual office hours, make sure they are accessible for all class participants since students could be taking the class from a different time zone.
  • With an online classroom it is possible to create virtual office hours by making yourself available in the classroom chat room or via instant messaging specific days and times. Blackboard and Moodle are two of the most popular software programs used to establish online classrooms and facilitate online learning.

Allison Dodge has been a writer since 2005, specializing in education, careers, health and travel. She has worked at educational institutions for more than 10 years. Dodge has a master's degree in education administration.