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I am a math instructor at local community college. I am in mid 60's and in good health except for a minor mobility issue. Teaching is mentally very rewarding. Beside teaching, I am also tutoring students on Calculus by Skype in my spare times. In fact, I have a corner my home converted to a mini studio complete with big whiteboard, HD camera, special lighting, etc. Although I have only a few students right now but they all express great satisfaction with my distance tutoring for its convenience and flexibility.

In my thought of thoughts, I used to muse that, wouldn't it be great if I am able to work as adjunct online math instructor, such that I may still have a rewarding activity in my retirement years when my mobility issue become a major issue? I would like to make small baby-steps one at a time. But I do not have any distance teaching experience. I have been trying to gain a foothold in this online craft by applying to small part-time online teaching position but without success. Here are my two questions:

(1) Is there any prep that I can do right now to improve chance of getting hired in the future? Certification perhaps, but what certification? Maybe volunteering at a non-profit institution, but where?

(2) My understanding is that almost all online classes are either on BlackBoard or Moodle platform. Does this mean that my experience with Skype distance teaching is irrelevant when applying online position?

I would appreciate any help or suggestion from you. Thank you very much for you time.

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    It's cool that you want to do online teaching in an interactive way, but you may be very disillusioned with that it is in reality. In many cases it seems to be a way for tenured faculty to maintain their required teaching load while doing almost no work and having no interaction with students and no work to grade by hand. Success rates are often extremely low. Schools like it because it lets them take in revenue without having to pay for physical facilities or limit enrollments based on physical resources. If students fail, they can repeat the course, which makes more revenue. – Ben Crowell Sep 22 '16 at 14:55
  • The SUNY system has a huge number of online classes. Some of them are excellent. I don't know if other large universities do too. To get comfortable with an online format, take or audit an online class you are interested in. Also see Dave Kaye's comment, which is helpful. However, I think that if you can get a credential that would be a plus. Also, the more experience you have with online group interactions (preferably live) the better you will function when you start doing that kind of work. The multitasking aspect can be tricky but like anything else it gets easier with practice. – aparente001 Sep 22 '16 at 20:25
  • You should get comfortable with several different platforms, including such things as WebEx, GoToMeeting, those sorts of things. The more you use these platforms, the easier it will be for you to quickly get comfortable using a new platform later. Your eye and mouse will be able to scan the screen quickly and nail the feature you are looking for. – aparente001 Sep 22 '16 at 20:26
  • Coursera has a handful of courses that cover the topic of distance/eLearning that you might find useful. For example Foundations of Virtual Instruction and possibly e-Learning Ecologies: Innovative Approaches to Teaching and Learning for the Digital Age. – scrappedcola Sep 23 '16 at 4:02
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  1. There is very little regulation with regards to online teachers, so you probably wouldn't need to get a certification.

  2. False! Not all online classes are on BlackBoard or Moodle. There's Khan Academy, Lynda, and a bunch of other spots online that are similar. Your skype teaching experience is also not irrelevant at all. A lot of these courses do "workshop" style classes, which are essentially group skyping.

A few things about teaching online:

  • don't expect to be paid a whole lot
  • if you're looking for something lucrative, it can be way easier to join some sort of tutoring program than to teach traditional classes in an online setting with multiple students
  • most online teaching is now happening in a pre-recorded video format. Production values seem to keep getting better and better. Have you checked out MinutePhysics?
  • there are so many ways to teach online. If you're looking for a more standard university experience, plenty of universities have online programs. Occasionally these programs get outsourced, so I would look into the companies that they outsource to. The ones that don't outsource, of course, tend to hire in-house, but I feel like they would be open to a new application. Perhaps that's something to consider?

Anyway, I know this is maybe a less clear answer, but hopefully it will give you some ideas with regards to what your options may be.

  • Thank you! I agree with you that even life-class instructors are not get paid well, much less online perhaps. But anyway, what I am looking for is a rewarding activities when my mobility get limited. Thanks again and again for your time. – Amanda.M Sep 22 '16 at 14:53
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    I started working at a local university and when I was promoted to the full time faculty it was expected that I begin teaching two of my classes online. Very little training and it was off to the races! We had a lot of teachers who only taught in the online environment and never came to campus for any reason. So probably the best thing you can do is start developing a relationship with a university that offers this kind of teaching in the first place. Being pleasant and capable is probably the best qualification you could have. Never mind the certificate stuff. – Dave Kanter Sep 22 '16 at 17:46

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