How to be a Successful Online Instructor

Wednesday, November 09, 2016
How to be a Successful Online Instructor

The path to achieving success as an online instructor is made up of steps that include preparing for the work ahead, .

achieving realistic perspectives through assessment and experience, and learning from the pedagogy of online teaching. Some of the resources required are provided by universities and others you will need to find on your own.

  • Formal and informal training. If you are brand new to online learning, consider preparatory workshops, courses, and certificate programs offered by private companies, universities, and professional organizations. There are informal options as well in the form of open courseware focused on faculty development and topics related to online teaching.
  • Your school. Once you are hired, explore all of the resources provided to you by your new department. Look for opportunities, and potential requirements, to attend new instructor orientation sessions. You will also find helpful information and guidance in faculty handbooks and other policy and procedures manuals. Locate faculty development resources in the form of tutorials and workshops.


  • Assess yourself. Self-assessments can help you identify your current strengths and weaknesses as an online instructor. Tools such as the Faculty Self-Assessment from Penn State provide a list of critical competencies, feedback on your current levels of experience with each one, and guidance on helpful resources for you to pursue.
  • Take a course. Consider experiencing the online learning environment as a student. This experience and fresh perspective will be invaluable as you work with online students in your future courses. Some schools will pay for you to do this ñ research available options for tuition reimbursement and fee waivers.


  • Transition. Seek out opportunities to integrate technology into your traditional courses as a way to transition into a completely online course. Taking small steps in this direction will help you build your skills and comfort level with both technology and online communication.
  • If at first you don’t succeed. Take the time to assess what went well and what didnít go well in each online course you teach. Then, formulate a plan for improvement that builds on the successes you’ve had in the past. You will be better able to anticipate problems, and enhance your skills, with every new course and term.

Being an online instructor means more than posting information online and standing back. It also means more than strictly presenting lecture content on the Internet. Effective online instruction requires interactivity both in terms of the course content and the community of learners participating in the class. Prepare yourself for your role as an online instructor with a thorough review of both your current skills and the wide variety of resources available to support your efforts.