How to Start Teaching Online?

  • Last Post 15 June 2012
vandykenr posted this 24 October 2011 - Last edited 25 February 2016

I just posted a biography with background information (PhD in aero engineering and have taught over 15 years, also naval aviator and CFI). I have taught and still teach courses in the field of aerodynamics, aviation, human factors, and mathematics that have brought many challenges and enjoyment. In the near future, I would like to teach college courses online (especially mathematics, or aviation related subject matter). Any suggestions as to how to proceed? Do I need a certificate to do this kind of teaching, and if so, do you have a recommendations? Thanks, Bob

dhandlos posted this 25 October 2011 - Last edited 22 October 2015


It sounds like you already have a lot of experience as a teacher, which is a huge advantage. Generally, a certificate for online teaching isn't required, but familiarity with using online teaching tools (ex. Blackboard, Desire2Learn, eCollege, Angel, etc.) is always a HUGE plus. Have you used these kind of tools before as a part of your teaching?

There are certificate programs available on the topic of online teaching for anyone who wants to demonstrate that they've got a solid foundation in e-learning. Naturally, the classes are usually available online. ;)

There are two programs that I know of at the moment (I know there are others, I can dig a bit further shortly):

1) Online Teaching and Learning - California State University

2) Graduate Certificate in Online Learning and Teaching - Thomas Edison State College

VickyPhillips posted this 25 October 2011 - Last edited 22 October 2015


I agree with David.

You don't need a formal certificate or degree to teach online college courses in most cases. Many online degree programs offer or require that new adjuncts or instructors take a short continuing education course (that they provide) on how to use the software system they use and on how to engage students online.

If you are very serious and want to move up and teach and develop more courses online then a certificate of say 3 to 5 courses can help your job prospects.

You can find a good many online teaching certificates or elearning certificates in the Get Educated online degree directory.

Compare online education certificates.

Once you have this list you can use the FILTERS to narrow your MAJOR to distance learning or ed tech or instructional design and see several good options.

We also have a great nutsehll guide to teaching online that details the basics for newbies:

Good Luck! Vicky

vandykenr posted this 30 October 2011 - Last edited 06 August 2015

David, Thanks for the response and the links.

I have some experience with Blackboard about 5 years ago, and I currently use Coursecompass to a small degree.

Do you have a preference for any particular online tools?

Thanks again, Bob

dhandlos posted this 03 November 2011 - Last edited 06 August 2015

I don't have any particular preference myself, but my experiences have been mostly with Blackboard and a competitor called Desire2Learn.

Blackboard is one of the more popular educational suites out there, so if you haven't already, feel free to highlight that you already have a working knowledge of the toolset on your application/resume.

If you already know the tools, that's less training that a given school would have to give you.

katesolomon posted this 15 November 2011 - Last edited 06 August 2015


It seems you have got a really nice teaching experience. You can apply anywhere and have a nice salary.


Jennifer27 posted this 12 June 2012 - Last edited 06 August 2015

Hi Bob I don't think you need any other credentials to teach online. In fact, with such an extensive experience, you should think of starting your own online tutoring business where you can get to teach students from across the world at your convenience.

sbjhnsn posted this 13 June 2012 - Last edited 06 August 2015

I couldn't help but notice that the University of Illinois' Illinois Online Network's Making the Virtual Classroom a Reality series has not come up in replies. Specifically, we have a Master Online Teacher (MOT) certificate that is very helpful in documenting your skills and abilities as an excellent online teacher. Yes, you may have all the skills and experience you need without it but we find that even experienced instructors gain valuable insights, skills, and perspectives through their participation. We are very aware of the competencies required of an online teacher and have crafted the MOT to meet them.

VickyPhillips posted this 13 June 2012 - Last edited 22 October 2015

Hi SB,

Thanks for the tip. I have heard good things about the making the Virtual Classroom a Reality program from other teachers.

We do list a number of University of Illinois Graduate Education Online degree programs.

So far, the ones listed in the Get Educated directory have 5 happy students who give Illinois a collective straight A for student satisfaction, so something good is certainly going on with Illinois online and its programs for educators and teachers.

All the Best

Jennifer27 posted this 15 June 2012 - Last edited 06 August 2015

"Hi Bob I don’t think you need to associate yourself with any university to teach online. What I strongly feel is that you should consider starting your own venture. With such a vast experience, I don’t think you will face any difficulties in that.

There are platforms that offer you everything you need to teach online. You get to design your own courses and deliver sessions at your own convenience. They also provide you with the tools to streamline your administrative processes.

Managing your sessions is also very easy. You get notifications when you have sessions. The process is hassle free and you can teach any number of students.