How to Get Started Teaching Classes Online
You may have read on our site about how to position yourself to get a teaching job. Those tips and tricks are a great starting place, but if you’re more interested in teaching online than in the classroom, you’ll want to read these additional pointers.
Online courses, and the need for online teachers, are growing rapidly. Especially because of the recession, more students are turning to cost-effective bachelors and masters programs that offer all or some courses through virtual classrooms. The benefits of these courses– convenience, flexibility– go for the teachers, too. If you have a computer and enough time to devote to instruction and grading, you can teach an online course.
Fields With Online Positions
Colleges and universities have embraced online learning, using learning management systems (LMS) like Moodle, Blackboard and Desire2Learn to engage students. There are myriad other platforms, but the goal of all LMS is to give students and teachers a space for interaction and work completion. A first step to take in securing an online position is to familiarize yourself with these systems.
If you’re not interested in teaching higher education, secondary and elementary schools need online teachers, as well. Virtual charter schools are popping up across the countries, and many school districts have online learning programs for students in special situations. You might be teaching students who:
- Are recovering from illness
- Have an anxiety disorder and are uncomfortable in a traditional class setting
- Need to make up credits for graduation
- Are in an area affected by a natural disaster (such as post-Hurricane Katrina)
- Need additional support or tutoring for core classes
Courses can cover everything from math and reading to specialized fields, so just as in a classroom teaching job, you’ll need the right credentials to get a job.
Getting an Online Teaching Position: Requirements and Tips
To get into the online teaching world, you may want to start with online tutoring, which doesn’t require a teaching license. You can look at websites such as TutorVista, Tutor.com, or Tutapoint, just to name a few.
If you’re looking to teach in higher education, you’re likely to need the same credentials as you’d need to teach on-campus, which likely means at least a masters degree. However, to apply for an online job, you should also put together a portfolio of how you’ve used technology in the past, your comfort with various LMS, and any participation in online forums, blogs, or websites.
It also pays to send your application, unsolicited, to universities or colleges where you’d like to work. InsideHigherEd quotes Lealan Zaccone, the assistant director of online learning at Northampton Community College, who notes that she has filled the vast majority of online teaching positions from unsolicited applications.
If you do apply for or get a position, it’s likely to fall within the category of adjunct part-time professor, as few online schools hire full-time professors. Some programs do hire tenure track professors, but they’re not common. During 2010, the median annual earnings for a post-secondary teacher were $59,000, though that varied quite a bit for the middle 50 percent: pay in that group ranged from $42,000 to $85,000. This depends, in part, on your field, since medical and IT faculty make more than humanities professors.
To get a position with a school district, whether in the elementary or secondary arena, you’ll again need to have your teaching credentials. Online positions are usually posted along with classroom teaching positions. These might be on the school’s website or on a state forum for education jobs, like Schoolspring or Ezapp. Many states also provide links to districts’ virtual charter schools.
Finally, you can find online positions with K12, one of the leading providers of online classes to districts across the country. They partner with both public and private schools to provide curriculum and teachers for courses. You’ll need to provide your teaching license and meet all the requirements for being highly qualified in your subject area in order to get a position.
Job and Teaching Resources
Interested in getting a job online? The following websites can help you search for openings in higher education jobs. As mentioned, if you’re looking for elementary or secondary openings, your best bet is to use the department of education website for your state.
If you do land that job, you’ll want to be prepared. Use these resources to learn about best practices for online teaching:
- National Education Association: Guide to online teaching
- The VHS Collaborative: A professional development course designed to help teachers move from face-to-face teaching to online teaching
- Get Educated: Potential pitfalls for online teachers.
By Danielle Restuccia