One bright spot in a dismal job market is work related to online learning. For many years I have taught a course for the CUNY Online BA Program, entitled “Principles, Practices and Policies of Online Learning.” I have reminded my students that given a 20% average per annum growth rate in this field (based on Sloan C reports), it seems likely that there will be many opportunities in this field. A recent article in an educational technology magazine (**reference not available) confirmed my conclusion.
There are — and will continue to be — plenty of opportunities for online instructors, given the growth of online learning. Virtually every academic discipline is needed, with additional opportunities for business and education faculty since these programs are often the first to be developed for Masters programs.
In addition to online faculty, there are an array of other titles that have recently been posted on sites like HigherEdJobs.com. These include titles like:
- Online Course Builder
- Executive Director for Online Learning
- Instructional Designer for Online Program
- Senior Learning Officer, and
- Online Learning Support Specialist
As this field matures, many of these titles will become more standardized across a range of institutions. In addition, middle schools and high schools are expanding their online courses offerings, which should be followed by new jobs in that sector.
The August 3rd Chronicle of Higher Education had a short article (link here) on the appointment of Columbia University’s first “Chief Digital Officer.” This position is primarily devoted to envisioning and planning that institution’s online offerings. What this news story points to is the continuing evolution and importance of online to strategic planning within higher education, and the development of new job titles to address online planning, and implementation.
Breaking into the Field
Students sometimes ask me how to get into this field of online education. My first response is that they first take courses online to determine what students experience and how different instructors approach delivering their courses. Next, I ask them to do research on what type of work they wish to do in the field. For teaching, certainly a Masters in a discipline is usually required.
If the goal is to assist faculty in creating online courses, I would have them explore the many online Masters programs in Instructional Technology that are now being offered. Management of online programs would require both experience in the field and usually a Masters degree in some technology, education or related field.
The opportunities to play a part in this online revolution are still just beginning. I feel we are only in the early innings of this game, with the field of online learning and teaching being open to new ideas and approaches. For those with a committed interest in the field, it is worth exploring and pursuing these diverse opportunities.
** Note: After reading this article in one of the many educational technology publications I follow, I lost the reference. Searching for the article, published between July and August, proved futile. If anyone comes across the reference, I’d appreciate if they could send the link or reference. The short piece described the growth of employment in the online learning sphere.