Four out of the 14 online instructors and faculty members in the LCTCS pilot program have never taught an online course, Hall said.

“Lots and lots of front-end work,” she said, would be the only way for newbies to online instruction to grab students’ attention on the first day of class, just as they would in a brick-and-mortar classroom or lecture hall.

“[Online instructors] can be a little dismayed with the amount of work they need to do in preparation for their first class,” said Hall, who taught her first online course in 2003 at Harrison College in Indianapolis. But after three or four years, “you can pretty much teach it with your eyes closed.”

After a few years of teaching online college courses, instructors will be able to compile frequently asked question sheets stockpiled with the most common student questions.

The queries still will come in the form of constant eMail, she said, but online instructors should know when to leave their laptops and mobile devices and save their answers for predetermined online office hours, where students can sign on and chat with their instructor about upcoming assignments and exams.

“I am a workaholic, but at some point you have to turn it off and stick with office hours,” she said. “There’s a lot of burnout [in online education] because you want to be there for every student, but you have to make time for your life. If you don’t, you will be tied to your phone or tied to your computer all day every day … And we’re not trying to create a super online faculty member here.”


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