Teaching online is seen by some as an art by some, the work of a technician by others and nothing more than a referee by others still. No one would dispute that technology available to online teachers is changing every year. There are more tools available than ever before, but as instructors rely upon technology more, the more that the basics suffer in the profession. Some online instructors fail to keep up with technology and in turn they find themselves competing with others that are more technologically savvy, but in the end, instructors need to understand that beyond the special effects, there must be effective classroom leadership. Technology is not a replacement for running an effective classroom.
When one looks past the technology of an online classroom, the experience is no different than operating as part of a virtual team. In a virtual team, there are team members and a team leader. The instructor in the classroom is unequivocally the team leader. An online instructor needs to follow the mold of successful leaders and of successful virtual leaders. Leadership is not about doing things once and a while, it is about being consistent and it is about being visible.
The three most important aspects of good classroom leadership are:
Lead the class from the front
Lead the class by example
Lead the class through communication
If an instructor can do all three of these elements, the instructor will be more successful than those that have great graphics or catchy videos. Consider the classroom experience as going to a movie. A great movie has great actors and a great plot, but how many times have we seen or heard of movies that did not meet the expectations of the public and we hear apologetic reviews as “great special effects”, “superb costumes” or “interesting characters.” The classroom experience is no different. A great instructor brings greatness to the classroom in the way...