Instructors of online classes must meet many of the same requirements as do those who teach traditional courses. Each college sets standards that must be met by its teachers. Generally, credentials for online instructors include a four-year college degree, teaching certification, and professional and practical experience in the field in which they are teaching.
Instructors of virtual classes must also be proficient with technology. They must have solid computer skills and be able to effectively manage and deliver a course via the Internet. This involves being able to easily navigate a website to provide informational materials, assignments, discussion questions and grades. To prove that they are qualified to deliver courses in a digital format, instructors are often required to complete some type of training or earn a certification that demonstrates their capability.
Since online courses do not involve presenting lectures or conducting labs, the credentials instructors must have to teach them may not always be as high as they are for traditional professors. To teach a course at the graduate level, an instructor typically must hold a Ph.D. and have professional experience in the particular field of study. Teaching experience is also usually required as these types of instructors educate students at an advanced stage. Instructors who teach online courses to undergraduates typically have to have at least a master's degree and have completed relevant course work. Although teaching experience is preferred, it might not always be required at this level.
Some professors may prefer to teach in a traditional environment where they can conduct lectures and facilitate discussions. This is why when it comes to online educators, it is common to see titles such as faculty associate, adjunct instructor, teaching assistant or online instructor. Even though the person who oversees an online class may not be a full professor, you can be confident that he or she is adequately qualified if employed by an accredited college or university. If you're concerned about the legitimacy of particular online instructors, you can usually look them up on the schools' websites. Profile pages should list each faculty member's credentials, including official title, education history and professional experience.