One myth concerning online courses is that they are easier to develop and less time-consuming to teach than face-to-face classes. A good online course is as challenging to create as any other, and possibly more work up front, since all of your class materials need to be created prior to the first day of instruction.  Courses can take up to 100 hours of instructor time to shape the course material into a format that makes sense in the elearning environment. UAF eLearning can provide the assistance of an Instructional Designer, who will guide and assist you through this process.

What is required to be an excellent online teacher? 

As with any other kind of teaching, dedication, concern for student success, a mastery of the content, and enthusiasm goes a long way. A willingness to try new things (and fail), the time to learn current best practices in online ed, and a strong support system will get you and your students into a position where sound learning can take place.

The excellent online instructor must:

  • understand how teaching online is different;
  • they must be committed to engaging students through discussion and community development;
  • they must provide rapid and constructive feedback to students;
  • they must be open, flexible, and responsive;
  • and they must establish a presence in the course early on and encourage students to do the same.

Teaching online can be a very rewarding experience. You should have some level of comfort with technology but you don’t need to be a technology expert to be an excellent online instructor.


Palloff, R. and Pratt, K. (2010) The Excellent Online Instructor: Strategies for Professional Development, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, p.176.

About the Author:

Jennifer is an instructional designer at UAF eLearning with over 20 years experience working with faculty. She is interested in emergent technologies such as augmented reality, interactive media, and wearable devices and how these trends fit into successful educational experiences. She also enjoys painting, photography, travel and exploring wilderness areas off the grid. Connect with Jennifer at

This page was last updated on : Dec 16, 2014