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Top 10 Duties of an Online Instructor

written by: Om Thoke•edited by: Sarah Malburg•updated: 10/13/2010

Online teaching is quite different from the traditional class room teaching activity. There are several duties of an online instructor that may not be necessarily performed by a classroom teacher; here’s an insight.

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    Developing and delivering instructions online is slightly different from traditional classroom style due to availability of advanced tech support and a number of online teaching resources.

    However, it is extremely crucial to realize that online classroom design considerations and good use of technology only aids in achieving well-designed objectives and learning goals rather than superseding them.

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    Top 10 Roles and Duties of an Online Instructor

    The most crucial duty of an online instructor is modeling effective teaching, and accepting the responsibility of maintaining group harmony, keeping discussions on track, as well as contributing special knowledge and insights to aid in overall success of the online classroom program.

    The top 10 roles and duties of an online instructor are summarized below

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    Pedagogical Duties of an Online Instructor

    The duties of an online instructor are simply not limited to delivering highly informative and easy to understand sessions, clearing the doubts of students, and helping them in obtaining better understanding of the topic.

    An online instructor needs to be a good educational facilitator, and he/she must promote healthy discussions and a high level of instructions amongst the various online participants. As an online instructor, if you don’t give a chance to the participants to get involved in the sessions actively, you’re never going to achieve the best results.

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    Technical Duties of an Online Instructor

    There are good chances that not all the participants of an online classprogram may be well acquinted with the software and the interface as a whole. Consequently, it is again one of the important duties of an online instructor to make sure that all participants are able to use the interface effortlessly before pouncing upon anything else; this will always result in better results.

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    Maintaining Flexibility: Don't Go Merely by Your Agenda!

    It is very essential to keep your flexibility levels on the higher side due to the individuality of the learners. An online instructor needs to support each and every participant and be flexible in terms of covering the agenda, following the flow of the session is more important than following your agenda for that particular session.

    Remember, even if you miss out a small topic, it can be covered in the next session; but, if you skip some valuable tips that you were expected to deliver in that particular session, the effectiveness of the session may even drop off by 50%!

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    Maintaining a Non-Authoritarian Style

    Everybody hates the authority figure, especially the adults. You need to put yourself in other's shoes and realize how irritating it may become to tolerate a bossy online instructor. Remember, you're not dealing with kids anymore. They may be participants and your students, but you're not expected to be bossy; so try to maintain a non-authoritarian style!

    If you behave in a friendly manner and facilitate healthy discussions, you're bound to achieve high success levels.

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    Don't Just Deliver: Encourage Active Participation

    Learner participation and interaction can be stimulated and increased to a good extent with the help of various learning options such as group discussions, dyadic learning partnership exchanges, one-on-one message exchanges, polling activities, and the likes of them.

    It is of utmost importance to realize that it's not just about delivering the goods; you need to encourage and facilitate active participation too. And, recognizing students messages is also very important; otherwise, the level of participation may go down drastically once you ignore the initial messages. At the same time, you must not expect too much either. You can be content if two to three well-articulated, major points are discussed by the participants.

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    Present Conflicting Opinions

    At times, negative views on a hot topic can result in extremely high levels of participation; it is also one of the duties of an online instructor to draw attention to different perspectives and conflicting opinions that could lead to peer critiques and debates.

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    Don't Lecture: Create Open Ended Discussions and Invite Visiting Experts

    Rather than bluntly lecturing on a particular topic, express your views in such a way that they invite discussions, and give relevant examples to improve the overall level of interaction in the online learning environment.

    You may even consider inviting guest experts occasionally to join the conference with students to respond to posted contributions. Try to elicit comments rather than simply lecturing information.

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    Be Careful About Humor or Sarcasm

    It is also one of the important duties of an online instructor to be careful about use of sarcasm and humor; you may not really mean to be offensive to anybody, but the difference in ethnic and cultural backgrounds may sometimes turn out to be the root of a big fuss!

    Visit the following links to read more on Pitfalls to Avoid for the New Online Instructor and the Best Ways to Deliver Business Classes Online.

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    • Berge, Z.L. (1995) - Facilitating Computer Conferencing: Recommendations from the Field. Educational Technology: 15(1) pp: 22-30.
    • Rohfeld & Hiemstra, 1995: p. 91
    • Feenberg, A. (1986). Network design: An operating manual for computer conferencing. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communications, PC29(1) pp. 2-7, March.
    • Gulley, H. E. (1968). Discussion, Conference, and Group Process (2nd). New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc.