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Need for Online Teacher Training

Teaching in an online environment is a different experience than teaching in the classroom. It requires an emphasis on a different set of skills than classroom teaching. The amount of students taking online courses keeps increasing. Despite this, teachers are not being exposed to the necessary skill-set while in college. Those looking to provide online teacher training for their online staff should focus on the areas mentioned in the two articles below. It is essential that online teacher training not be ignored.

Archambault and Larson’s (2015) article, Pioneering the Digital Age of Instruction: Learning from and About K-12 Online Teachers examines the reasons to teach, the skills, and the necessary online teacher training. The researchers found that people go into teaching online for two reasons: economics and innovation. The authors also found that communication skills and organizational skills are essential to being successful. This is due to those areas being very different in an online format as opposed to face-to-face. Finally, the researchers found that teachers are not learning the skills needed while in college. Instead, these skills are being learned on the job.

Communication Skills

Respondents to the survey noted that online teachers must be skilled at communicating via phone, text, email and video chat. They must be able to identify students who need help from course communications without the face-to-face non-verbal cues. Online teachers must actively reach out to students and parents because of the separation between student and teacher in online learning.

Organizational Skills

Organizational skills break down into two categories: time management and structured work flow. Time management is important because, for the majority of online teachers, there is no set class time. Instead, time must be spent in the course and checking on students on a regular basis. A structured work flow is important so that the teachers are aware of how students are performing. There is no other way to check for understanding than through closely monitoring the progress of the students.

Zweig and Stafford’s (2016) article, Training for Online Teachers to Support Student Success examines the training teachers receive before and while they are teaching in an online environment. Their research found that online teachers need support and training in online student engagement and student perseverance. The findings suggest that online teachers could use some additional professional development in these two areas. Despite an increase in online students, college programs are still not addressing online engagement and perseverance strategies. Finally, the research concludes that online teachers need personalized support that addresses their needs.

Student Engagement

Respondents in this study indicated they desired training and professional development on how to get students engaged in online activities. Furthermore, they wanted to learn how to create high-quality interactions between students throughout the activities of a course. This is because effective engagement strategies differ between teaching online and teaching face-to-face.

Student Perseverance

Respondents also indicated they desired training on how to get students to self-reflect, and become responsible for their own learning. This includes making sure the online learning experience is personalized for each student.

Both articles touch upon online teacher training and professional development. Each article highlights the lack of training for pre-service teachers at the collegiate level.  Archambault and Larson (2015) look at student teaching experiences and note that very few programs offer online student teaching opportunities. Zweig and Stafford (2016) note that student engagement skills for online learners are not addressed in teacher prep programs.

Both articles also note that most of the online teacher training and development occurs on the job. Finally, they both note that additional support and training is desired by and necessary for online teachers to be successful in the online classroom (Archambault & Larson, 2015; Zweig & Stafford, 2016). Both articles reached the same conclusion about the lack of good training which indicated training should be provided.


Archambault, L., & Larson, J. (2015). Pioneering the digital age of instruction: Learning from and about K-12 online teachers. Journal of Online Learning Research 1(1), 49-83.

Zweig, J. S., & Stafford, E. T. (2016). Training for online teachers to support student success: Themes from a survey administered to teachers in four online learning programs. Journal of Online Learning Research, 2(4), 399-418.