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Readers Respond: What Makes an Online Teacher Effective?

Responses: 12


Not every teacher is fit for the world of online education. Issues such as poor communication and unclear expectations can easily ruin a virtual course. But, some online teachers stand out from the crowd. What makes an online teacher effective?

Compassionate but Assertive

When family emergencies occurred while taking a Master Program class, my instructor gave me lots of time to keep up with the response postings up to the final project. All the time she was e-mailing me back and forth with compassionate remarks while checking on my progress. She even allowed me to interrupt her family time to get my final project submitted properly when we encountered tech glitches.
—Guest Delia G

Knowledge and Experience

Have worked on a Master's Program online and a lot of different courses and I think the most important thing an Online Teacher must have is the knowledge and experience working with the platform on which the course is given. This gives their students the confidence to succeed.
—Guest Margarita R. Ruiz

Prepared and Participatory

In my view, an effective online teacher requires students to participate in discussion board topics and small group projects. This replicates the sense of involvement you get in a face-to-face class and is much more motivational. Also, it's imperative for the online course materials to be well-organized and easy to navigate. Finally, the online teacher must be readily accessible to students by phone and/or e-mail - preferably phone, in case there are urgent questions or problems that need to addressed.
—Guest Sandhya Larsen


As an employer of online Spanish teachers , I find the most effective tutors are dynamic, personable and show students encouragement. Also they need good computer skills to speed the class up.

Preparation and time managment

The professor or the teacher should be well prepared to give his ideas in a good presentation. Whatever the easiness of the subject, it should be prepared. Time management is needed to cover the topic fairly and accurately.


I studied a management course with Distance Learning College and Training and my tutor had so much patience. Quite often I would need to speak to him several times in a day when I didn't understand something. His patience and ability to change scenarios so that it was related back to my work really helped me. I think that is the most important thing.
—Guest Craig

Student Centered Teaching

It really is common sense, but many teachers still haven't grasped the concept of 'student centered teaching'. I think that it is a human nature problem in that we all like to be listened to, especially teachers. Don't anyone be offended, because I'm a teacher and mea culpa. While I have your ear (or eyes) I find students are expressing more and more interest in life experience degrees.

Ability to touch on a lot of issues

It is important that online teachers should be able to reveal to students any form of tricks and errors always made concerning the topic of a lesson. This will impart confidence in their students wherever they go because they will have vast knowledge.

An encouraging attitude

Online teachers need to be helpful and be encouraging. So many of us are holding down jobs, raising families, taking care of the house, dealing with all sorts of issues and are completely stressed out. A helpful, encouraging teacher who "smiles" with her/his words can make all the difference on any given day when it comes to student morale.
—Guest Lea

The ability to direct a conversation

Online discussions can get too off-topic, especially when one annoying student tries to dominate the entire chat. A good online teacher is able to redirect the class and facilitate a productive discussion - even if it means standing up to the one bad apple that won't let anyone else get a word in.
—Guest Sandra Peters


In some of my online courses teachers aren't willing to help you out. But, my favorite online teacher had a ton of patience. He even spent two hours talking to me on the phone to help me work through a math problem. He didn't have to do that - but, it made a huge difference. And I passed the class!
—Guest Bobby

Technological competency

Some of the best online professors I've had are really good at figuring out how to work content management systems. I hate waiting during every class period while an inexperienced online teacher tries to figure out how to log into chat or set up a teleconference.
—Guest Melody

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