Traditional higher education is part of a well-established tradition that has remained largely unchanged over time. Training as an instructor in this environment means that teaching standards, which have also remained largely unchanged, are adhered to. A university professor is associated with someone who is a subject expert, who is likely to reach a position of tenure and has dual roles as an instructor and researcher. They are expected to be authors of scientific journal articles that have been peer-reviewed and have contributed knowledge to their subject area. While this form of training and teaching still exists, there is another academic institution that has also been established, and it is an online university and college.
For a modern form of online education, you probably won’t find jobs that are referred to as professors. Most online universities post additional offers and many refer to their lecturers as moderators. Some universities expect their faculty to meet the annual requirements for professional development, but rarely will this include the publication of peer-reviewed journal articles. What we need more than ever today is a new category of educators that meets the needs of students participating in this modern form of education. Now is the time for online universities to adopt this new form of educator, those who can be described as modern educators.
From traditional to online teaching
The traditional format of student education is the lecture-oriented class. The instructor provides the students with information and they must show what they have learned through various assessments. They know that their teacher or professor is an expert in the particular subject for their class. This teaching method is the same style used in primary school, and it is aimed at teachers. As technology has opened up new opportunities for education, a new format has been developed – online courses and online grades. Initially, traditional educators taught these courses, but over time this has changed as additives have played a major role in teaching roles. Now that online degree courses and online schools are fully established in education, a new type of educator has emerged.
Development towards modern teaching
With the growth of online learning came the need to hire a large volume of instructors. Some online universities have classes that start weekly and others offer courses that start monthly. Adjunct recruitment was the answer, and the majority of student teaching posts have been filled by instructors who have a master’s degree in the subject they teach. Over time, the number of instructors qualified to teach online has increased significantly, and now many side jobs require a doctorate. What has contributed to the growing pool of available online teachers are the fluctuation of enrolment numbers, the limited number of full-time online teacher positions and the increase in specialisations – especially in the field of online teaching. There are also many online schools offering online teaching specializations, and those students who graduate with a master’s degree are included in the pool. It is estimated that there are currently almost two million additional online instructors teaching online courses.
The requirements for online teaching may also include continuing education. Most online universities require annual continuing education. To meet this requirement, these universities usually offer workshops and training. The publication of scientific journals can be used to meet professional development requirements, but most schools do not require this. These modern teachers also differ from a university teacher in the way they are allowed to present themselves in the classroom. An online instructor is often referred to as a moderator and rarely as a professor – although some instructors refer to themselves as professors to determine their position in the learning process. Many online universities tell their lecturers to use their first names as a means to create a casual and accessible image – even if the lecturer has a Ph.D.