Teaching Online: Part Two

A few days ago, I began answering this question by writing about the general requirements, degree- and time-wise.  If you missed it, you can view that post here.  Today, I want to address job hunting and the general pros and cons.

Finding a Job

I first got into teaching math online after talking with a friend who had taught English online for a few years.  She was teaching full-time for one college and part-time for at least one other one.  She gave me a list of schools to research.  Even if I still had that list somewhere, it would likely be irrelevant now.

There are two ways I recommend for finding online teaching jobs: 1. job-posting sites, and 2. the websites of specific colleges and universities.  My favorite job-posting site for finding teaching jobs is higheredjobs.com.  I’m sure there are others – a general one like monster.com comes to mind – but I haven’t used them to find teaching jobs.  What worked best for me was visiting the HR departments of specific schools online.  A Google search for “online university” or something similar will help you get started.  I currently teach for Kaplan University.  I have also taught for American Intercontinental University.  The University of Phoenix, of course, has a very large share of the online market.  Be on the lookout for TV commercials since many online colleges advertise that way.

You may also want to search brick-and-mortar schools.  Most now offer at least some courses online.  Be aware, however, that in many of these cases, those classes are already being taught by professors who also teach in the classroom.  Even if they hire online instructors, there may be a requirement for students (and therefore, you) to meet physically on campus at least once a term.  Just be on the lookout for that kind of set-up.

General Thoughts

There are many benefits to teaching online.  The biggest one is getting to work from home.  My mother is very fond of telling people I make big bucks while wearing my pajamas.    While I have yet to see any “big bucks” (the pay is comparable to teaching for a local community college or small university), I have been known to teach seminar in my bathrobe with no make-up.  Another benefit is scheduling flexibility.  With the exception of my live seminar one hour per week (and I have some input in choosing that time), I can choose when to do my other schoolwork.  I’m required to log into my courses at least once a day during the week, and at least once over the weekend.  I think that’s pretty standard.  Another benefit that is often overlooked is not having to spend extra money on clothes or transportation expenses.  (Obviously, you do need to spend money on a reliable computer and internet connection.  You’d be surprised how many students don’t seem to understand this….)

One of the biggest drawbacks to teaching online is not being able to see your students (apart from the occasional picture that someone may post).  This can make it challenging to know when to offer help to someone.  The onus is very much on the student to ask for help or clarification, but they don’t always do that and sometimes blame you anyway for their confusion.  As I mentioned before, having classroom teaching experience can help you in anticipating those times of probable confusion, but it’s not foolproof.  Clearly and frequently communicating your willingness to help will draw out more of their questions.

There’s another aspect that could be considered a benefit or a drawback, depending on your perspective: you’re working alone.  Yes, you will be part of a department and will attend periodic online meetings, and you will get to know other instructors via e-mail, but it’s not the same as having offices in the same building.  You might feel alone, or you might feel independent.

Hopefully I’ve answered most of your questions (and maybe some you hadn’t considered).  Have I left anything out that you’d like to know?

Interested in becoming an online student?  I wrote an article you may find interesting.  You can read it here:  http://www.thehomeschoolmagazine-digital.com/thehomeschoolmagazine/201205/#pg101.