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8 pieces of advice for new online instructors

A woman sits cross-legged on a couch while working on a laptop.

Read expert insights from highly experienced faculty members about online teaching, course development practices and more

They say there is no substitute for experience. That may be true in certain respects, including among instructors of higher education. But here is a great alternative: conducting in-depth interviews with highly experienced online instructors and sharing their wisdom with the world.

The Oregon State University Ecampus Research Unit achieved this through a groundbreaking study that explored the experiences and motivations of long-term online instructors. Based on extensive interviews with 33 instructors who have taught online at Oregon State for 10-plus years, the study revealed their teaching and course development practices, attitudes and beliefs about online learning, and more.

The insights gleaned from these interviews are valuable to all faculty members, regardless of experience level. The Ecampus Research Unit also highlighted these eight pearls of wisdom in the form of advice for new online instructors.

Download the complete advice for new online instructors as a PDF.

1. Learn from others and take advantage of professional development

Don’t reinvent the wheel. Learn from other online instructors and online learning professionals, and take advantage of professional development opportunities.

2. Utilize the online medium

Online environments function differently than in-person environments. Think about how you could use the online medium to your advantage.

3. Make your presence known and communicate regularly

Consider what methods of communication you wish to use (text, phone or video) as well as where communication could happen (inside the LMS, over Zoom or in person).

4. Consider and support your students

Online students often juggle multiple life responsibilities. Think about your course from the students’ perspective. How can you continually invite your students into your course?

5. Focus on what you love about teaching

Enjoy the experience of teaching online and focus on aspects of the work that you love. For example, you may love your content area, interacting with and mentoring students, and online pedagogy.

Valuable skills for online students and instructors

In addition to providing guidance for instructors who may be preparing to teach online for the first time, the perspectives of long-term Oregon State faculty members can also be enlightening for online students. Read a newly published blog post from the Ecampus Research Unit.

6. Believe in your ability to teach online

Most content can be taught online with some creativity. Even if you are unsure of how to teach something online, you will have better outcomes if you believe that it is possible.

7. Be aware of the time and effort involved in teaching online

Developing new online courses take a lot of upfront work. Once a course is developed, teaching online takes more time than you think. Many online instructors think that the time commitment is similar to in-person teaching.

8. Build a connected online community

Help students feel connected to you as an instructor as well as to other students. How can you interact with your students? How can you encourage your students to interact with each other?

The Oregon State Ecampus Research Unit has published a variety of findings related to its study on long-term online instructors.

Explore all study results

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