Online teaching requires unique skills compared with traditional face-to-face instruction. These skills include using multiple technologies effectively, facilitating student engagement in an online environment, and developing or customizing online courses. However, little is known about the training in which online teachers participate or the kinds of challenges they perceive in their professional practice.
To learn more, REL Midwest and the Wisconsin Virtual School collaborated to conduct a study of online teachers' professional experiences. Key findings from the 48 teachers who taught an online course during the 2013/14 or 2014/15 school year and responded to the survey include the following:
- More teachers reported that they participated in training or professional development while teaching online than before teaching online or during preservice education.
- The most frequently reported types of training included a multiday workshop or conference and ongoing training sessions.
- Teachers most frequently reported challenges related to student perseverance and engagement; their least frequently reported challenges related to working conditions, such as feeling isolated from colleagues, and professional practices, such as setting course expectations.
- Teachers indicated that they preferred unstructured professional development to structured professional development for addressing challenges related to student perseverance and engagement.
The report includes a copy of the survey that states, districts, or other online learning programs can use to collect data about the professional experiences of their online teachers.