This guest post is contributed by Kate Willson, who writes on the topics of best online colleges. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is 8:30 a.m. on a Monday morning. While the rest of the nation’s workers are navigating the rush hour traffic en route to their downtown offices, you are still lying comfortably in bed, savoring the remaining quiet hours before your youngest child wakes up and your day officially begins. Today, you will chase your son around the park, watch him negotiate with other young children on who should first go down the playground slide, make him sandwiches for lunch time, and read aloud from his favorite books. But in addition to that, you will also answer student e-mails, put together an intriguing and informative lecture, and grade essays in your digital drop box. You are not only a stay-at-home parent – you are also a stay-at-home teacher.
More Online Students = More Online Teaching Opportunities
The popularity of online college courses has skyrocketed in the past few years, coinciding with the major advancements in computer and Internet technology. In fact, approximately 5.6 million students were enrolled in at least one online course in the fall semester of 2009, which is about a one million student increase from the enrollment numbers in 2008, according to the most recent data released from the Sloan Consortium. This has resulted in numerous universities, including traditionally brick-and-mortar institutions like Boston University and Texas A&M University, to bump up their efforts to offer college courses and entire degree programs online. Due to the increasing push for schools to offer more and more online courses, there is also a renewed demand for quality instructors to teach those courses. Teachers who had previously left teaching in order to be a parent at home can take advantage of these new online teaching opportunities, as it will allow them to continue teaching, earn extra income, as well as continue being a stay-at-home parent. You can even teach classes for prestigious universities without having to ever relocate or leave your home.
Do You Qualify?
To qualify to teach an online college course, you must first meet all of the qualifications to teach a traditional classroom-based college course. This means that if you endeavor to teach an online course for a community college, you will need at least a master’s degree in education or the field that you want to teach. To teach at a college or university, you will need at least a doctoral degree in education or in the field you want to teach. In addition, you must have plenty of experience with using a computer and the Internet because those will be your main tools for teaching. While you do not need to know how to take your computer apart and put it back together or how to write and code a program, you will need to know how to put together multimedia lectures, use platforms like Blackboard and Moodle, and communicate with your students through message boards, e-mail, and instant messaging. If you meet all of these requirements, you may become the instructor of your own virtual classroom.
Some Salary Parameters
Salaries for online professors vary depending on the school and the department, as well as the professor’s other classes. For example, a professor who teaches both an online and an on-campus class will likely earn the same salary as other traditional professors, which is about $58,830 annually, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Professors who only teach online courses typically earn half of what classroom teachers make, though this is not always the case. The best way to find out exactly what you will earn from teaching at a particular institution is to contact them directly.
Before you are hired or immediately after you get the job, most schools will require you to attend a seminar or training course to learn how to use the school’s online education platform. In this seminar, you will learn how to set up your reading materials and assignments, how to receive your assignments, how to grade assignments and general details on navigating the online education platform. Some of these seminars may be conducted online as well so that you will not have to physically travel to attend and learn. Before you begin teaching, you will also want to ensure that your computer is up-to-date in terms of operating software as well so that you can best take advantage of delivering education through the Internet.
Set Realistic Expectations
However, remember that being a teacher, even one of a virtual classroom, will be demanding. You will need to put serious thought and effort into designing your curriculum and lectures, spend hours of the day grading and answering student inquiries, and anything else the class may demand. Yet, just the fact that all of this rewarding work can be done while you are at home looking over your child may be reason enough to consider teaching an online college class.
Readers: Have you taken online classes? Do you teach online classes? We would love to hear of your experiences.