What It Means to Be a Modern Online Educator

Traditional college instruction is part of a well-established tradition that has remained fairly unchanged over time. Becoming an instructor in this environment has meant conformity to teaching standards that have also remained fairly unchanged. A college professor is associated with someone who is a subject matter expert, likely to achieve a position with tenure, and have dual roles as an instructor and researcher. It is expected that they will be published authors of scholarly journal articles that have been peer-reviewed and contributed knowledge to their field. While this form of education and instructor still exists, there is another academic institution that has also been established and it is an online college and university.

For a modern form of online education you will not likely find any positions that are labeled professor. Most online universities hire adjuncts and many refer to their instructors as facilitators. Some universities expect their instructors to complete annual professional development requirements but rarely does that include publishing peer-reviewed journal articles. What is needed now more than ever is a new category of educator, one who meets the needs of students who participate in this modern form of education. Now is also the time for online universities to embrace this new form of instructors, those who can be called a Modern Educator.

From Traditional to Online Teaching

The traditional format for educating students is the lecture-driven class. The instructor delivers information to students and they must demonstrate what they have learned through various assessments. They know that their instructor or professor is an expert in the particular subject area for their class. This method of instruction is the same style that is used in primary education and it is teacher-centered. As technology has brought new possibilities for the field of education a new format developed – online courses and online degrees. At first traditional educators taught these courses but over time that has changed, especially as adjuncts filled a majority of the instructional roles. Now with online degree programs and online schools having been fully established in the education field, a new type of educator was also emerging.

Evolution to Modern Teaching

With the growth of online learning came the need for hiring a large volume of instructors. Some online universities have classes that begin weekly and others offer courses starting monthly. Hiring adjuncts was the answer and the majority of jobs teaching undergraduate students have been filled by instructors holding a master’s degree in the subject field they were teaching. Over time the number of instructors qualified to teach online has grown substantially and now many adjunct positions require a doctorate degree. What has contributed to the increased pool of available online instructors is the fluctuation in enrollment numbers, the limited number of full-time online instructor positions, and the increase in degree specializations – especially those related to online teaching. There are also many online schools that offer online teaching specializations and those students who complete their master’s degree are added to the pool. It is estimated that at present there are nearly two million adjunct online instructors teaching online courses.

The requirements for teaching online also may include continuing education. Most online universities require some form of annual professional development. Those universities generally offer workshops and training courses as a means of fulfilling this requirement. Publishing scholarly journals can be used to help meet the professional development requirements but most schools do not require it. These modern teachers are also different from a college professor by the manner in which they are allowed to present themselves in the classroom. An online instructor is often called a facilitator and rarely is this position referred to as a professor – although some instructors will refer to themselves as a professor to establish their position in the learning process. Many online universities tell their instructors to use their first name as a means of creating a casual and approachable image – even if the instructor has a doctorate degree.

An Example of a Modern Educator

Within the field of online education there is a significant difference among educator types. There are those with a master’s degree who can teach undergraduate courses and there are those with doctorate degrees who can teach both undergraduate and graduate students. For those schools that offer doctoral degree programs, an expectation for instructors to be published in a manner similar to that of a college professor may still be in place. But there is a need for a new standard. If traditional methods of learning do not apply to online education, then traditional instructor qualifications should also not apply to online educators. Now is the time for a new instructional category, one that is referred to as a Modern Educator.

My work as an educator has evolved from traditional college teaching to that of online teaching and now I have become a Modern Educator. Instead of spending months (or possibly longer) trying to become published in a scholarly journal, I publish online articles. Instead of my work being available only to those who have access to and read scholarly journals, I now have an opportunity to reach a broader audience. My work is available as soon as I write and publish it, and more importantly – I understand how to use social media. I am connected to an international basis of educators, universities, and students through the use of social media.

Through social media it is possible to share ideas and resources, along with online articles, blog posts, and other intellectual contributions. This also applies to transformation of the publishing process. Instead of waiting to find a publisher and go through the traditional publishing route, I have self-published e-books. This has allowed me to become highly engaged in the field of education and it has redefined what it means to be a college instructor. Becoming a Modern Educator indicates what online instructors should be involved with and online schools developing as a requirement for their professional development.

Steps to Becoming a Modern Educator

Whether you have a master’s degree or doctorate degree, if you teach online courses you need professional development. But this should be more than taking a workshop – it needs to involve making an intellectual contribution. In addition, the work of a Modern Educator also needs to be involved in some form of social or professional networking. Here are some steps you can take and strategies you can use to become a Modern Educator.

#1. Write a Blog – This provides a platform to share your expertise and summarize your knowledge. As you continue to conduct research for your areas of professional interest and you can include what you have learned through your blog posts. There are numerous free resources that will allow you to create and share your blog, such as Word Press.

#2. Write Online Articles – Instead of taking the time required to write and submit articles to scholarly journals, which can always be an option for you, find a resource that allows you to publish online articles. The articles you write, which are based upon your knowledge and experience, will allow you to reach a broader audience, refine your writing skills, and establish yourself as a subject matter expert. I utilize Ezine Articles, which is an article marketing database.

#3. Use Social Networking – Every online educator needs to learn how to establish their presence via technology. It only makes sense that if you work in a technology-enabled environment you should also know how to be engaged in online communities. LinkedIn provides a means of professional networking, finding groups that match your interest, and even finding online jobs. Twitter can connect you to an international base of educators, students, and universities – providing a place to share resources.

#4. Develop a Website -If you find that you are highly ambitious and want to develop more than a blog you could also build your own website. This would be a place for you to house resources that you have created, which could be shared with educators and students. There are free webhosting services available and others that charge a small fee.

#5. Write E-Books – The field of publishing has changed and now authors are taking back control by making their books available in an e-book format. Kindle and Nook devices are the most popular devices. Kobo is another device that is gaining popularity because it can be used on mobile devices such as Blackberry. You will likely need to hire someone to format the book, sign up for an account to distribute your e-book, and once it is ready you can have it available in a relatively short amount of time.

Maintaining a Modern Educator Status

A Modern Educator is someone who does more than teach online classes. They are active in the field of education and their chosen subject matter. They know how to teach using technological tools and engage in a virtual community of other educators through social media. The Modern Educator is also conducting research and making intellectual contributions through technological means. The work they publish is done through technologically-enabled resources and made immediately available for their intended audience. They know how to use social media to promote their work and share resources with other educators and students.

It is time now for the Modern Educator mentality to become the standard for online learning. Instruction has adapted in format from traditional to online, and so too must the instructor. It is also important that online schools and hiring specialists recognize the new Modern Educator. This is someone who has likely taught for several institutions because of fluctuating enrollments and staff changes; however, what matters most is their ongoing professional development and intellectual contributions. The most desirable candidate for an online teaching position is someone with more than extensive work as an online educator. It is someone who can also utilize technological tools as a means of publishing their work and connecting with other educators. A Modern Educator is the new college professor and the one most prepared for teaching through the use of technology.

Distance Education University Recommendations

Here are a few things we recommend considering before you decide on where you get your distance education degree.

Not All Universities Are Created Equal – There are many universities online. But, its important to research the accreditation of the universities that you are considering. Some universities online that offer only online degrees and have no “brick and mortar” school, lack the same credibility as another “brick and mortar” university.

Consider The Way Students Will Be Taught – Find out how the information will be presented to the students before you enroll in a school. There are many different ways that schools will teach students at a distance. Some provide videos of lectures online. Others present information over the internet and others use books and test online.

Read Online Reviews – Look for reviews online of the schools you are considering and see what previous students have had to say. Although, try to find a site with so many reviews that even if there are some manipulated or false reviews, that the majority of them will be from the general public.

Evaluate the Cost – Compare tuition costs with other schools. Some of the “brick and mortar” schools in low cost of living areas have cheaper tuition even when you factor in out of state tuition. Some of the universities that serve both on campus and off campus students are better schools for your money than some of the online only schools.

Make sure you shop around and look for reviews and recommendations before you decide on which school to enroll in.

6 Tips in Choosing an Online Education University

If you’ve decided to get a university education online, here are a few tips to make sure that everything goes smoothly.

Tip 1: Online education has grown into a multi billion dollar industry, and as such it is only to be expected that some unscrupulous characters may be lurking in cyberspace to take advantage of the uninitiated by offering lousy programmes which is virtually useless. So, to be on the safe side, study with a reputable online education university. Ask around among friends, relatives and colleagues to recommend one. In addition, do a search on the Internet for reviews of the online universities you have short listed before making a decision.

Tip 2: Should the online education university be accredited? Well, yes and no. Some institutions of higher learning offers excellent courses but are not accredited because of a myriad of legitimate reasons. Do not equate non accreditation to automatically mean illegitimate. That’s wrong. In cases where you just want to learn some very basic skills, then accreditation won’t be a factor in your decision anyway.

Tip 3: If you want to further your studies for career advancement, find out from the relevant authorities concerned whether the degree you plan to pursue are recognised by them. For example, Miss A is a civil servant and she presently has a diploma. She wants to do an MBA online. She goes to her department head and was told that the MBA would not be recognised simply because the department’s requirement is that she must have a basic degree first before she go for a Master’s degree.

Tip 4: Before signing up, email the shortlisted online university and asked them any questions which you may have about the course you are interested in. See if they have a trial sessions for prospective students. From the promptness of their responses and the way they answer your questions, you should have a good idea what kind of university you are dealing with.

Tip 5: Make sure you go through all the fine prints before signing up. For instance, I was once told that a certain university never inform their students that they would have to do a viva for their final research paper. In the end, many students gave up because getting through a viva is no joke.

Tip 6: Study the course schedule closely and decide whether you have the time and money to complete it. Think through it carefully. Although many online education university tend to use the phrase “study at your own pace”, its not entirely true because you still have deadlines to meet in respect of submitting your assignments.

Useful Tips on Accredited Distance Education Universities

The need for you to attend any of the various accredited distance education universities out there cannot be overstressed. In other words, you must not only be pleased with just spotting and going to a university, you must make sure that it is totally accredited. It is not intelligent of you to just take the remark of the university for it. You should check their assertion from the right accrediting organization. Remember, they have spent large sums of cash to own that charming web pages you are viewing. And they are at liberty to put any record on their web page but it is required of you to make sure that you are registering with a properly accredited university.

Moreover, many human beings stop at only finding out that the university is accredited. They neglect to discover if the course they are interested in is also accredited. In other words, there are two types of accreditation. The school, as well as the course you want to put your name down for must be completely accredited before any employer out there can attach importance to you and your certificate.

Due thoroughness is considered necessary when you are looking for accredited distance education universities. This is because not all of them are genuine. There are so many deceptive universities presenting distance education out there and if you are not watchful enough, you will fall into their trap. Use the web to look for these universities. When you are supplied with lots of universities, you must not be in a hurry as many people often do. Remember, it is your career and promotion we are talking about here. Hence, you can’t afford to joke with this. Patiently go through the list. Check first for accreditation of the university. The next thing you should search for is whether your course is accredited.

Employers are aware of the many diploma mills on the internet. They know them and can spot when you are presenting the certificates of one of them. Consequently, in your own interest, avoid them and look for accredited universities offering distance education. You can be positive that employers will treat you well. Besides, you won’t be ignored when it is time for promotion in the organization. When attempting to improve your career through distance education, you need to be patient to do all that is asked of you to get a reputable certificate. Don’t join the list of individuals looking for a short cut. Moreover, I beg you to ignore mails from universities that you did not request information from. This is an example of an unaccredited university. Distance yourself from them like plague for your own good.