The idea of “teaching” an online course has been largely distorted to mean packaging up a bunch of videos and documents and then focusing all energy towards selling it. In real life, this would be like a professor selling you a textbook he wrote along with a few slideshows and then heading out the door.
Content marketers, often motivated by a mythical idea of hands-off content streams as passive revenue gold mines, have found creating online “courses” to be an easy sell. You can spot these kinds of courses by the snake-oil style sales tactics used to sell them: access windows that expire for no good reason, super long sales pages, a pyramid-scheme-like emphasis on buying into a passive-revenue lifestyle, unreasonably high price points with steep limited time discounts, etc.
A whole industry of content marketing experts and course creation platforms has emerged around this fad of using “courses” as a get rich quick scheme. While there’s nothing wrong with creating and selling useful content, calling it a “course” and calling offering it “teaching” is at best an abuse of some important words and at worst deceptive.
So what does great online teaching look like? It’s actually pretty easy to identify — being a great teacher online requires doing the same things you’ve seen your favorite teachers do in the classroom.
Great online teachers:
If that sounds like a lot of work, it is. There’s nothing passive about real teaching. It is as much a craft and art as any other job. And doing the job well comes with immense rewards, as any teacher knows.
The good news is that the internet and technology can and should act as a multiplier to great teaching not a bastardization of it. In fact, at a time when so much great content exists, we need truly excellent teachers more than ever — this is not the time to sell out.