Do you know what it will take to become a transformational online educator? Do you know what it takes to develop a strong virtual online presence?

Many educators who begin to teach online believe they can make the transition easily from teaching in a traditional college classroom to an online classroom. What they don't realize, if they don't seek out resources to help them learn how to teach in a virtual environment, is that they are putting themselves and their class at a disadvantage. The reason why is due to the significant difference between classroom teaching and online teaching. It isn't because the principles of adult learning have changed, or the needs of adult students have changed, rather it is due to the change in the format of learning.

Educators who have taught in a traditional classroom are often surprised to discover that online teaching requires a different instructional strategy, and even the use of a different set of skills, when they first become acquainted with a virtual learning environment. The transition can be fairly easy for some educators to make, and much more challenging for others, especially if they have become accustomed to teaching in a particular manner and have not needed to change (or they have not been willing to change) their approach to classroom instruction.

Online teaching is not just about learning how to set up an online classroom and adding learning resources; it is a matter of how the class is taught and the manner of instruction used. To become an effective online instructor there must be thought given as to how the technological tools will be used, how to translate traditional communication into digital communication, and how to evolve from an instructor who stands in front of a class and directs the flow of conversations and interactions to someone who can facilitate and guide the learning process, while keeping students interested and engaged in the course.

Learning to teach online requires having an open mind and a willingness to learn, along with making an allowance for the time needed to implement new methods – while monitoring instructional effectiveness until excellence is achieved. One of the most important methods needed is a strong virtual presence.

The Need for a Strong Virtual Presence

Since an instructor's presence is a critical component of any classroom environment, establishing a virtual presence needs to be one of the first instructional strategies that are implemented, which begins to address how you teach. Within a traditional classroom the instructor is physically present and it is that presence that maintains social interactions, guides discussions, and builds relationships with the students. These direct interactions are absent from the online classroom environment; however, it is still possible for an instructor to develop a strong virtual presence through the use of indirect interactions.

Any instructor who wants to work in a virtual environment has an ability to develop a strong virtual presence by adapting their traditional facilitation methods. For instructors who are used to teaching in a physical classroom they may find that new techniques are now required. Without the physical presence of an instructor, online facilitation occurs through the processes such as communication, feedback, and relationship-building.

Within a technology-enabled learning platform an instructional presence is possible when instructors are active in class discussions and they are quickly responding to students' questions and the overall classroom conditions. Students develop perceptions about the class, the process of learning, and the school based upon their classroom interactions and they are likely to find it reassuring to know that their instructor is dedicated to their progress and overall development.

An important component of an effective online presence is the instructor's availability. In order for students to feel connected to the classroom environment they need to know that their instructor is readily available on a regular basis. This means conducting more than an occasional check-in with the class; a strong instructional presence must include the instructor's active and ongoing engagement and participation.

An effective method of demonstrating availability is answering questions and emails within a timely manner. Some adjuncts utilize instant messaging as a means of being available for their students. Overall, being actively engaged and present in the class results in a positive experience for the instructor and the students, and promotes a productive learning environment.

Additional Online Teaching Methods

Based upon my experience and advanced education, I authored Transform Online Teaching: Expert Strategies and Essential Resources Every Educator Needs to provide additional strategies and resources.

The purpose of this book is to provide you with strategies and resources that I have learned and implemented throughout my career, working as an online educator, faculty development specialist, Faculty Director, Faculty Manager, Dean, and Chief Academic Officer. For over ten years I have interviewed, hired, trained, mentored, and reviewed the performance of hundreds of online faculty members. I also authored, developed, and delivered numerous faculty development programs.

This book was written to provide you with a professional development opportunity. You can choose to read it from beginning to end, or you can choose a chapter to review at the start of each course you are assigned to teach. You may also find it useful to review specific topics of interest after you have conducted a self-assessment at the end of a class.

My hope is that you are inspired as an online educator to develop engaging instructional practices, connect with students in a meaningful manner, and perform your very best.

To Purchase Transform Online Teaching: Expert Strategies and Essential Resources Every Educator Needs   signed by the author, please visit: Transform Online Teaching   

About Dr. Johnson

Dr. Johnson has worked in the field of higher education and distance learning since 2005. He specializes in distance learning, adult education, faculty development, online teaching, career management, and career development. Dr. J has a Ph.D. in Postsecondary and Adult Education, a Certificate in Training and Performance Improvement, and a Master of Business Administration, MBA. Presently Dr. J is a Core Faculty member for one of the premiere online universities, fulfilling his life's mission to teach, mentor, write, and inspire others.

As a scholar practitioner, Dr. J was published in a scholarly journal and he has been a featured presenter at an international distance learning conference. He has also published over 200 online articles about adult learning, higher education, distance learning, online teaching, and career development.

Dr. J offers the following transformative resources:

• Transform Online Teaching: Expert Strategies and Essential Resources Every Educator Needs

• Appreciative Andragogy: Taking the Distance Out of Distance Learning

• Getting Down to Business: A Handbook for Adjunct Faculty Who Teach Business

• Brand New: Mindset Tune-Up Inspirational Card Deck (The very best of Dr. J's Inspirational Quotes.)

Brand New: Dr. J's First-Class Coffee Mug (What a way to start your day!!)

To learn more about these transformative professional development resources, please visit:

About Affordable Quality Writing

Dr. J founded Afforded Quality Writing in 2003 to offer skill-based resume writing and strengths-based career coaching. Dr. J helps hundreds of clients each year by providing a well-written and highly effective resume, along with instilling in them a renewed self-confidence and sense of purpose.

To learn more about Dr. Bruce A. Johnson, please visit the following resources:




Click Like on Dr. J's Facebook pages and you'll receive updates with important resources for online teaching, distance learning, and higher education, along with career advice, job tips, and other helpful career resources.

Share this: 

Add new comment