6 Insider Secrets To Be A Good Online Instructor

6 Insider Secrets To Be A Good Online Instructor
Summary: Online trainers are largely invisible, but they’re still relevant for virtual education. What can you do as an online instructor to enhance the experience for yourself and your online learners? In this article, I share 6 insider secrets for how to be a good online instructor regardless of your experience level or niche.

How To Be A Good Online Instructor

A good teacher connects with their students and with their subject matter. They’re deeply knowledgeable in their field, but they can also translate their knowledge to the level of their learners. They can convert it into easily absorbed chunks. This is why even with eLearning courses, an instructor matters. Many times, your online learners will need you to step in and put a human skew on their content. And in some ways, it’s easier to instruct online than off. You can focus on the learning material and minimize distractions, both for yourself and your online learners. Below are 6 top tips to be a good online instructor.

1. Prompt, Don’t Lead

Apart from flexibility, the main characteristic of eLearning is self-regulation. Online learners are left to their own devices, allowed to set their own pace and schedule. However, without a little help, they may end up not participating at all. Don’t push or pull them in any direction but, as their online instructor, it’s your job to give them a little prompting when they need it. Monitor their progress and check on them if they haven’t logged in for a while. If they seem to be struggling with a particular unit or schedule, find out what the problem could be. You shouldn’t tell them what to do, but it’s okay to offer helpful suggestions that make eLearning more effective. For example, direct them to the microlearning online training library where they can access information on their own. Or develop an online training contract that allows them to choose their own activities and goals, but still holds them accountable.

2. Offer One-On-One Support

Just because you’re not "in class" doesn’t mean your online learners don’t need you. The nature of eLearning courses means they’re designed to "omit" you. They’re developed specifically to function without your physical presence. However, online learners may still need human interaction and personalized support, so offer it to them. Offer "office hours" where they can contact you on the phone or by a messaging app. You can let them book slots for video chats or web conferencing. At-will access to their online instructor will elevate your eLearning course above the competition. It’s also wise to build in a peer-based support network they can tap into, such as online discussions and social media groups where they ask questions and share their own tips.

3. Get Creative

The nature of eLearning means you’re not in the same physical space as your online learners. Therefore, you have to find unconventional ways to interact with them. You could engage them in ways that are not necessarily educational. For example, do a daily chat thread covering current affairs or topics of interest. The idea is to get them actively engaged. This interaction is a light warm-up exercise, so it doesn’t have to be academic. Still, where possible, link it to online course material.

4. Maintain Professionalism

In many ways, eLearning courses are less formal than offline ones. You don’t sit in a physical class, so you can train anywhere. Many online learners are attending in their pajamas, on their lunch breaks, or during the morning commute. This level of flexibility is useful, but it can also lead to laxity. As much as the eLearning course is casual and laid back, stay professional in your approach. Plan your lessons, make a schedule, do everything you would in a physical classroom. Yes, that might include dressing up, even if your online learners don’t. It shows authority and makes them more likely to listen to you.

5. Step Into The Online Learner Role

They say those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach. It’s a somewhat cynical and dismissive approach, but there is a precedence. Many pro athletes retire into coaching careers, and Ph.D. candidates eventually become professors. That said, your role as an online instructor requires you to have more knowledge than your class. Otherwise, you have nothing new to offer. So even as you make lesson outlines and curriculums, participate in the career progression of your own. It doesn’t have to be time intensive, and you can upgrade your credentials online. It will help in one other way, it puts you in your online learners’ shoes, helping you engage them better.

6. Find Their Source Of Motivation

Online learners must have the drive and determination to actively participate in eLearning. Effective mentoring and structured eLearning course content will only take them so far. Their motivation has to bring them the rest of the way. Find out what makes them tick so that you can use these motivators to your advantage and theirs. For instance, a survey reveals that most of your online learners are enrolled because they want to get a promotion. Or they’re preparing to make the switch to a new career field. This allows you to custom-tailor the eLearning content to their needs and give them the individualized support they require. Such as incorporating a leaderboard or badge-based reward system for those who are motivated by competition or public recognition.

Most people hated school. But on the few occasions you enjoyed your studies even as a kid, it was probably because of your teacher. As a teacher yourself, you can make your eLearning course far more successful by "teaching" it well. Your classroom is virtual, yes, but online learners still need access to you. Let them have it. Don’t spoon-feed them. Instead, nudge them into a self-driven exploration of their subject matter. Use creative teaching techniques, and do some learning of your own, upgrading your qualifications. It will make you a better online instructor.

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