Becoming an online professor takes considerable work, education and focus, and depending on your field, the competition can be fierce.

As you probably know, online education has numerous advantages including setting your own schedule, working around family and other obligations and even performing work in your most casual clothing. Like anything, there are also disadvantages including loneliness and assuming the burden for your ongoing training and professional development.

As you continue to ponder pursuing this field, here are some things you need to consider.

What Preparation Do You Need?

Becoming an online professor requires a number of things. First, you need to have at least a Master’s degree, and today, most schools require that their instructors hold Ph.D. degrees. In some rare cases, a professor with highly specialized on-the-job experience, such as in forensic accounting or criminal justice, might be hired to teach without an advanced degree. Online teaching is highly competitive, so if you have a Master’s degree and want to teach online, you should also get some on-ground teaching experience as well as other related work experience. Since many online students are non-traditional – frequently working full time or managing families – some colleges require ‘real world’ experience in addition to academic credentials and experience. Finally, colleges look for a commitment to scholarly work by doing research and writing articles in your field.

Will You Work Full Time or Part Time?

As an online professor, chances are you will not be hired into a full-time, tenure track position, although it’s not an impossibility. Most likely you’ll assume the role of a part-time, or adjunct, professor and will be hired for a particular course or courses. When you have finished teaching a course, most colleges don’t guarantee ongoing employment, especially if you haven’t met their performance criteria, which, depending on the college, can be extremely rigorous.

What Are The Duties of An Online Professor?

As an online professor, you will have many of the same duties as an on-ground adjunct. First – you will teach, either in a synchronous or asynchronous format. In a synchronous format, your students gather into a digital ‘classroom’ at a set time and you deliver a lecture. Depending on the technology used for synchronous sessions, the students may or may not be able to interact with you during a class session. In the asynchronous format, all course materials are available online, but students are not required to ‘meet’ at a set time. Other duties include holding ‘office hours’ where you are available in real time by phone or video conference to answer students’ questions or help them work through difficulties. Besides teaching, grading is your most important duty. Most schools will provide you with a grade scale and rubric that you’ll need to assess the work of your students. Finally, as an online professor you will probably have other assignments and paperwork to complete as designated by the college.

As you embark upon your journey to becoming an online professor, stay focused on your goal, prepare yourself with education and appropriate experience, and get set to enjoy an exciting and fulfilling career.

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