It seems that every college and university and some elementary, middle, and high schools are offering online classes these days—an increasing trend that leads established and incoming teachers to ask, “How do I become an online teacher?” The increase in demand for online teachers is increasing by double-digit figures each year. The growth in online teaching positions is impressive when compared to the market for teachers in brick-and-mortar schools which is rising by a mere 6% per year.
Over the last two decades, the educational environment has evolved to include instruction through the Internet. Referred to as “distance learning,” or “virtual classes,” these online opportunities to learn started as informational highways for researchers. Not long afterward, those same researchers realized that the opportunity to pass on information through a virtual class reached more individuals than publishing a book about the subject. Schools took notice and began building platforms to hold discussions outside of the classroom. From there, the evolution to full-fledged classwork online did not take long. As technology grew, so did the request for online classes. Today, online classes are an excellent method for working students to gain their degrees without the necessity of visiting a classroom at a specific time and place.
The States and the federal government have not yet caught up with online education. According to Study.com states currently require public school teacher from K-12 in brick-and-mortar classes to be certified as teachers through an accredited institution, but private school teachers have no such requirement. Online is a new environment, and the dilemma becomes evident when looking at the disparity of credential requirements that already exist. The States have no jurisdiction over private school credentials and therefore are helpless when private schools add online classes to their bevy of education opportunities. The question arises that since the online environment is unregulated, how can a State require any school to adhere to a credential requirement for those who teach online.
Getting an Online Teaching Position
In the absence of any certification requirement to become an online teacher, it would seem logical that anyone could step into a teaching position, but that is not the case. Those who employ online teachers are conscious of the social implications of allowing anyone who applies to teach children online. Most require a teaching certificate when teaching classes K-12. For classes in secondary education, colleges and universities require a Doctorate’s to teach online classes. Community colleges require at least a master’s in the area of expertise being taught in an online class. Some organizations offer auxiliary classes for gifted or special students. These organizations are often affiliated with universities in some way and have the same requirements that those universities demand of their teaching personnel. The common thread amongst all these online teaching opportunities is in two parts. First, the security of online students is paramount. Resumes, transcripts, references, and background checks are still essential. Second, the establishment and maintenance of a virtual classroom are expensive, so organizations offering online classes integrate with other organizations already in the trade. With a virtual classroom already established, the teacher only needs the time, a fast computer with updated software, the ability to communicate online through a program such as SKYPE, and reliable Internet access.
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Though the virtual classroom offers a new platform on which to teach, those who take part must still have those essential qualities that teachers around the country possess—a curious attitude toward learning, a need to work with children, and the joy of seeing light-bulbs turn on in their heads as they learn. In the end, the only way to become an online teacher is to gain your expertise, purchase your equipment, become familiar with its use, and apply for the position.