Time demands for teaching online

One thing that will produce frustration and anxiety in the professor making the leap to developing and teaching an online course is trying to determine how much time it will take to teach online.  A second anxiety-producer is the answer I give: “Well, it depends!”

I don’t say that to be cryptic or cute, but it’s the only answer I can give without going into a long explanation to broadly touch on all of the possible ways to teach online.  It’s the same for a traditional class.  Not all classes are the same, nor do they all take the same amount of time.  There are many variables that change the nature of a class and the amount of time it will take to teach that class, including the professor’s abilities and personality.

I can say this… if you’ve never taught online before, it’s going to feel as if it takes forever to get a class ready.  That’s because you’re doing something new, you’re paving a new path – for you!  Others have done this, but you have to figure out how teaching online will work for you and your content.  There’s no cookie cutter approach for an effective, engaging, transformational online class.

With the assumption that there will be more than plenty of content, regular interaction is the key!  Teaching online doesn’t require the professor to be online for 3-4 hours a week in any given block, as you might when teaching in the traditional classroom.  It does, however, require you to interact with your students more often.   A good rule of thumb is to try to login to your class every day for 10-15 minutes.  This will let your students know you are present and active; that you are available to them.  Some days it will take more time, some days less.

Perhaps the best indicator of how much time it will take to teach online is the way in which technology is personally utilized.  Some questions that might help you think about this are:

  • Is technology an add-on to your daily flow of work, or is technology the vehicle through which you work?
  • Do you regularly communicate with family, friends, and colleages using a variety of technology – or are these add-on communication methods that you use in addition to everything else?
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