6 Questions to Ask When Choosing an Online Instructor

Students and faculty discuss specific traits that make an online teacher compelling.

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[Read how one online student balances family, work, and school.]

5. Do you set clear expectations and instructions for students?

Teachers should clearly denote what they expect from their students and what students should expect from their teacher, LaGuardia says. They should also provide a schedule of the course and detailed coursework instructions. "You need to make sure their feedback guides your learning experience," she says. 

6. How do you help build an online community?

The instructor needs to help create a community within the course, LaGuardia says. "You're learning together, but also learning from each other." She says that at the beginning of the course, it helps connect the community when every member—including the instructor—posts introductions about themselves and describes their background on the course discussion boards. She also says that online chat sessions help introduce the students to the instructor and allow students to answers questions about the syllabus and schedule.

Wegmann, of UCF, says her online chat sessions help her relate to her students. "Students appreciate being able to get a question answered immediately," she says. "When they hear my voice, it just seems to give a different feel to the class." She says instructors should incorporate their voice into their content to help build community by sharing stories and relating the material to real-life experiences. 

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