Online Instructor Tips And Tricks: 5 Traits That Are Essential For eLearning Success

Online Instructor Tips And Tricks: 5 Traits That Are Essential For eLearning Success
Summary: We’ve all seen allegedly ‘unteachable’ students bloom under the right teacher. That’s all well and good for children, but does it apply to adult instruction in a virtual setting? In this article, I share the top 5 traits that make a good online instructor.

Essential Traits Of A Good Online Instructor

What makes a good trainer? When was the last time you were in an educational setting? What was your experience like? Now think about the best learning experience you ever had. It could be an online workshop, a TED talk, or an impromptu presentation from upper management. What did you like about it? Chances are the instructor played a big role, and not just in your grade and knowledge retention. They also had a direct influence on how much (or how little) you enjoyed the "class". So now that you’re on the other side, what skills do you need for successful eLearning? Here are 5 online instructor tips to help you cultivate your eLearning skills.

5 Online Instructor Tips For All Experience Levels

1. Develop A Versatile Thought Process

Curriculum developers for eLearning courses play a multitude of parts. They have to step into the perspective of an online instructor, online learner, assessor, and employer. They have to look at training requirements and needs from every angle. Then they must design eLearning content that meets all criteria. Also, as an expert in their field, online instructors hold multiple terabytes of data in their minds. An online instructor needs miniscule volumes of that, barely a percentage point.

A good online instructor requires the ability and discernment to gauge online learner levels. They have to scan their knowledge base, figure out what is important to them, and teach them that. For example, an astronomer may know the scientific name of virtually every planet and star that’s ever been charted. However, they’re aware that few people know anything beyond our own solar system. They’d have to tailor their vast content into consumable chunks their learners actually want to know to avoid cognitive overload.

2. Strengthen Analytical Skills

In the same way, an online instructor has to be a keen people-watcher. This is even more important because they don’t get many chances to meet online learners. They might run a few seminars to fish and find out the preferences of online learners. But even in the...course of the eLearning course, they won’t deal with online learners directly. They will see data gathered by the software, or they may look at surveys and questionnaires, but that’s it.

Thus, it’s crucial that an online instructor can take these remote bits of information, analyze them, and gather actionable insights. The marketing team, for example, might develop a detailed customer profile. eLearning developers need to study that profile and design an eLearning course that will appeal to the target audience. They can also look at social media spaces where prospects hang out to identify preferences and expectations.

3. Hone A Keen Curiosity

Curious people ask lots of questions and explore the world for themselves. An online instructor with these qualities is likely to apply them in their lessons. As a result, they can awaken these characteristics in their online learners. It’s tempting for an expert to "show off" their knowledge. It can unintentionally come off as patronizing or condescending, though. Worse, it can intimidate your online learners because they feel out of their depth or bore them into quitting.

Thus, one of the top online instructor tips is to take the querying approach. Don’t hesitate to ask questions that prompt you to seek out answers. These shouldn’t be tests or rhetorical questions. Ask the kind of questions that encourage online learners to think deeper. Guide their thinking, showing how "ordinary questions" can get surprising answers. Warm them up with ice-breakers designed to show them they’re smarter than they think. Demonstrate their own pre-existing knowledge.

4. Be Observant And Willing To Listen

In every field, there are people who become instructors because they enjoy its power. They like to stand in front of a room full of students, hold their attention, and grade them. Their esteem is tied to their expertise in their chosen subject and their authority over learners. This type of instructor won’t do well online because their role – while crucial – is invisible.

Online instructors and eLearning developers have to be willing to stay in the background. Because they don’t often receive in-person feedback, they have to be observant. They’ll look at which questions online learners are failing in tests, or which modules they are struggling with. Maybe a particular unit has a high drop-off or takes longer to complete. An online instructor must have the insight to notice that, and the innovative thinking to identify and resolve the problem. They need to teach, not lecture. They need to be invested in the outcome.

5. Cultivate Adaptability

Unfortunately, few things in life go exactly according to plan. The same rule applies to eLearning. As such, you must be able to adapt to changing situations and know when it’s time to rethink your current strategy. For example, your eLearning course is no longer giving online learners the information they require to complete work-related tasks. Thus, you may need to conduct a training needs analysis and overhaul your eLearning course design. Another trait that ties in with this is flexibility. For instance, you may have a live event script already penned, but an online learner’s question forces you to veer off course. You must be able to recognize valuable teaching opportunities when they arise. Without letting an outline or plan-of-action prevent you from imparting gems of wisdom or facilitating peer-based knowledge sharing.


To be a good eLearning instructor, you need to boost your online learners’ chances of success. So, follow these online instructor tips to broaden your process to include multiple points of view. Gather and analyze online learner data and use it to improve your eLearning course. Ask yourself questions before trying to get answers from your online learners. Engage their thinking by teaching them to be curious. Listen to their feedback and apply it. Above all, have fun. If you enjoy sharing your knowledge, your online learners will follow suit.

The most successful online instructors are backed by an experienced eLearning team that possesses the right skills. Our niche online directory can help you choose the best collaborators for your next project.