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The Teaching Philosophy of an Online Instructor

written by: James Ballou•edited by: Heather Marie Kosur•updated: 6/29/2011

Understanding the teaching philosophy of the online instructor involves examining the belief that these individuals have in education and in understanding their personal view of the process. The educational spark within these teachers enables and inspires their work.

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    The Teaching Spark

    As with virtually every field of human endeavor, there are a number of different philosophies that guide the professionals in those pursuits. Some of the philosophies are altruistic as with instructors who teach for the pure love of the student. Some of the philosophies are mercenary such as instructors who teach for the love of money. The actual teaching philosophy of the online instructor has a bit of both of the altruistic and the mercenary but it also contains something that is uncommon for most endeavors: the desire to pass on a spark of learning that was shared with the instructor by a mentor.

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    The Power to Transform

    The teaching philosophy of an online instructor is rooted in a belief in the power of education. Such instructors believe that through the acquisition of knowledge and the completion of academic degrees that the student is transformed and becomes greatly empowered. Because of this belief, teachers are often willing to invest significant amounts of time and energy into seeing this transformation take place.

    Online instructors also tend to have a personal understanding of educational power because they have seen its influence firsthand. Observing the manifestation of this power gives instructors a unique insight and often causes their belief to transform into something more fervent and tangible. As a result, online educators feel that they are engaged in an important endeavor that is not only meaningful for the students they are teaching but has a radiating impact that touches the students' family and community.

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    A Personal Investment

    There is also an extremely personal investment in the process of online teaching. For those who have not been engaged in the process, this may sound like a contradiction in terms. However, the bonds that can be developed in discussion threads, e-mails, individual messages, and telephone calls helps to develop a special relationship.

    Because of the potential that online instruction holds, the teaching philosophy enables instructors to work many additional hours without monetary reward. Most instructors have invested hundreds of hours creating resources, tools, and references for students that are far beyond their job description. They do this because they know that with just a bit more effort that they can help students to grasp a concept, increase ability, or accomplish a task.

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    Helping People Live Better Lives

    Examining the teaching philosophy of the online instructor inevitably yields the realization that the approach adopted by most instructors is fairly simple. They want to help people live better lives. The online instructor's philosophy can be summarized in the words of author Jonathan Swift who wrote “Whoever makes two ears of corn, or two blades of grass to grow where only one grew before, deserves better of mankind, and does more essential service to his country than the whole race of politicians put together." As in Swift's quote, the online instructor seeks to make the place a better world by having been there and to share the educational spark that was once shared with them.