Teaching Jobs at Online Schools
Online education, also known as distance learning, first started as an option for students at institutions of higher education.
Now it has spread to the k-12 realm and is growing at a rate of 30% a year according to the North American Council for Online Learning (NACOL).
While candidates are usually held to the same certification standards as traditional public school teachers, individuals with online learning and teaching experience and a high degree of technology knowledge are generally preferred.
Online teaching endorsements are available. Currently, these are not required of all online teachers. However many organizations like the National Education Association (NEA) support the idea of teachers needing specialized education to teach online. The NEA shares, “Teachers who provide distance education should in addition be skilled in learning theories, technologies, and teaching pedagogies appropriate for the online environment.”
There are some programs where students take all of their classes online. Also, many schools offer online classes to provide students with greater options. The U.S. Department of Education reported in 2008 that 25% of public schools offer some form of online education.
Online teachers may be bound to an already existing curriculum. Other times teachers must create their own lessons or supplement the provided material.
Online education can offer teachers a level of flexibility not available in the traditional classroom. Teachers may be able to set their own work hours. Typically teachers work from home which can allow them to care for their children or elderly family members at the same time.
Some online schools require teachers to reside in the same state as the school. Otherwise, teachers receive the benefit of teaching diverse students from around the nation.
There is usually some travel required for online teaching positions. Teachers may have to meet students and parents for events like conferences and graduation. Also, training sessions on-site may be required for the teachers.
A virtual classroom is an extremely different work environment. Many teachers report forming closer relationships with students via virtual classrooms. Teachers are able to spend more one-on-one time with each of their students. Furthermore, some students are more willing to ask questions and discuss topics through the online format.
The teacher is able to instruct and help students in an environment basically free from classroom management issues.
Strong organizational skills are needed to teach online. Some teachers find it is difficult to create a workable routine when working from home. In addition, the workload may be higher than found in the traditional classroom according to Kearsley and Blomeyer of the magazine Educational Technology. They share that online teachers must keep up to date with current technological trends, communicate promptly with students on an individual basis and learn new teaching strategies.
The following resources offer more information regarding online teaching.
International Association for k-12 Online Learning
World Association for Online Education