Prioritizing Online Instructor Roles

Competencies and roles required to teach in an online environment are not fundamentally different from those for teaching in a face-to-face situation. Although the significance and demonstration of these competencies may vary according to the context or the roles one is assumed to undertake while teaching.

This article emphasizes the need for online instructors to take on a multi-dimensional role and  possess a varied and wider range of competencies.  To reach this goal faculty development training is needed to prepare faculty for a wide variety of roles and help them develop related competencies. The study prioritized and ranked  the roles of online instructors listed below.

Comprehensive list of roles

  1. Professional (role)
    1. Comply with ethic and legal standards
    2. Communicate effectively
    3. Undertake efforts to update knowledge
    4. Demonstrate commitment and favorable attitude
  2. Pedagogical
    1. Design instructional strategies
    2. Develop appropriate learning resources
    3. Implement instructional strategies
    4. Facilitate participation among students
    5. Sustain students’ motivation
  3. Social
    1. Maintain a cordial learning environment
    2. Resolve conflict in an amicable manner
    3. Refrain from undesirable behaviors
    4. Promotes interactivity within the group
  4. Evaluator
    1. Monitor individual and group progress
    2. Assess individual and group performance
    3. Evaluate the course/program
  5. Administrator
    1. Manage the time and course
    2. Demonstrate leadership qualities
    3. Establish rules and regulations
  6. Technologist
    1. Access various technological resources
    2. Select the appropriate resource for learning
    3. Develop different learning resources
    4. Suggest resources to the students (resource provider)
  7. Advisor/counselor
    1. Suggest measures to enhance performance
    2. Provide guidance based on student needs
  8. Researcher
    1. Conduct research on classroom teaching
    2. Interpret and integrate research findings in teaching.

The investigation  obtained expert opinions with regard to the priority and criticality of the eight online instructor roles. Pedagogical roles received the highest priority by the respondents, followed by professional, evaluator, social facilitator, technologist, advisor, administrator, and researcher roles.

Online instructors are still teachers – pedagogues – first and foremost, and the skills and competencies remain highly relevant to their training and effective performance. Three out of the five pedagogical roles are related to the faculty members various roles as a teacher, moderator and facilitator.

Next, the study identified the training objectives for the pedagogical roles.

1. Design instructional strategies 1.1 Identify students’ learning needs
1.2 Define student learning outcomes
1.3 Identify and sequence the learning content
1.4 Structure and sequence the e-tivities
2. Develop appropriate learning resources 2.1 Identify the learning resources
2.2 Select the appropriate resources
2.3 Develop resources if unavailable
3. Implement instructional strategies 3.1 Initiate the learning activity
3.2 Integrate resources while conducting the activity
3.3 Demonstrate effective presentation skills
4. Facilitate participation among students 4.1 Encourage students to participate and contribute
4.2 Promote social interaction
4.3 Facilitate collaborative efforts
5. Sustain students’ motivation 5.1 Assist students to be self-directed
5.2 Reinforce students’ contributions
5.3 Provide effective feedback

What kind and level of facilitation expertise do instructors need to have perform their roles?

Prioritization of Online Instructor Roles: Implications for Competency-Based Teacher Education Programs


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