The Internet has not only changed the way we interact, it is also revolutionizing the way we learn. According to the latest data from the National Center for Education Statistics, at the end of 2021 more than 11 million undergraduate students followed at least one online course in the United States, which represents 60% of the student body. And that trend does not stop growing. Obviously, Psychology has not remained outside of online education, so as the demand for remote courses increases, so does the need to hire professors of Psychology online.
Many universities are already hiring professors of Psychology to teach introductory courses online, but demand is also growing for educational platforms to deliver lectures or courses on specific topics. Specialized job search platforms, such as Jooble, agree in that the teaching of Psychology will grow by 11% in the United States creating some 155,000 new jobs until 2028, mainly demanding online psychology teacher jobs.
What training do you need to teach classes of Psychology online?
Obviously, the essential condition to teach Psychology online is to have a degree in Psychology. Having a master’s degree will open more doors for you and a doctorate will be even better, especially if you want to work at a university since most of them establish as an essential requirement to be in posses of a master’s degree. The good news is that all specializations are worth it. If you are a clinical psychologist you will be able to teach subjects such as Psychopathology and if you are a labor psychologist you will be able to teach how organizations work.
Also, it is not always necessary to have research experience, unless you intend to teach Statistical Analysis or Quantitative Research. In fact, the real plus to become an online Psychology teacher is having a specialization in education and/or having experience in remote learning. Some centers will require you to have taught at least one online course and usually give preference to candidates who have experience in the digital environment.
Therefore, taking a postgraduate program focused on online teaching can give you a great advantage over other candidates, because you will be able to apply that knowledge and skills in the classroom to facilitate the learning of your students. In this type of course, you will not only learn how the main e-learning platforms works, but also the ins and outs of this teaching modality, so that you can plan your classes properly and use the most effective educational resources.
There are even online courses that will allow you to prepare at your own pace, such as Walden University’s Post-Master’s Online Teaching in Psychology Certificate, which trains students to teach remotely at the university level or work in any online remote organizational learning.
The keys to teach Psychology online and connect with students
1. Communication changes and expands
Teaching students remotely presents a greater challenge than teaching in the traditional classroom. As a general rule, as the physical distance between the students and the teacher increases, so does the psychological space, so it is often more difficult to connect.
This is confirmed by researchers from William Carey University, who found that in the physical classroom, teachers can rely on non-verbal communication, such as facial expressions and tone of voice, signals that help them guide their students’ learning in a more effective way, but in the online environment it is more difficult to rely on that type of clues.
In fact, researchers at National Louis University found that in virtual classrooms, students perceive the teacher’s presence more broadly through all interactions, from emails and homework assignments to more subtle details, such as how they organize the course. Therefore, remember that the digital teaching tools you use become expressions of you and a way to connect with students. Choose them carefully.
The way of communicating also changes in online classes. This research shows that students highly value the teacher’s communication and responsiveness, but do not place as much importance on synchronous or face-to-face communication. That means that in the world of distance learning, real-time presence loses prominence. Therefore, you should pay special attention to asynchronous communications.
2. Clarity as a cornerstone of online teaching
Your work as a teacher does not begin in the classroom, but much earlier, when you plan the lessons. This planning takes protagonism in online classes. In fact, a study conducted at Georgia Southern University found that good design and proper planning are key to promoting effective online learning.
If students have trouble finding files, links don’t work, or have multiple browser tabs open, their stress level will increase, which will affect their performance. Therefore, it is important that, as a teacher, you feel comfortable with the learning platform and offer an organized online environment where students can easily locate and use the materials. Your confidence and clarity is conveyed through the materials and educational journey you have designed.
It is no coincidence that another research conducted at Clemson University found a relationship between higher levels of teacher clarity and higher levels of student learning. Again, it is not just about explaining ideas and concepts well or principles of Psychology, but to be clear on the process that students must follow, so that they know the steps they must take and the expectations that exist about their performance.
Remember that remote education demands great independence and self-direction from the students, so this process can sometimes be frustrating, especially at the beginning. Simplicity is key to breaking down those barriers and motivating them throughout the learning process.
3. Be available and responsive
By teaching online, you will face the problem that students do not share your same physical space to answer their questions and clear up their misconceptions. To make up for that distance, you should make an effort to communicate more regularly and informally with students to show them that you really care about their progress.
You may not see your students face to face, but you can interact with them. And that interaction shouldn’t be limited to posting class content and moderating discussions. You must be available through different digital channels so that you can guide them. A good initiative is to schedule online tutoring times, so that students can ask you questions directly or address those topics that are most difficult for them.
That availability also implies being open to feedback. A study conducted at the University of Florida revealed that the most successful online teachers are those who regularly collect feedback from their students to learn what worked and what didn’t. This is how they discover how to improve the course and their students feel valued.
Undoubtedly, to teach Psychology online you have to be willing to continuously improve, including new theories, research and, of course, methodologies and educational resources that provide students with all the information and motivation they need. Teaching remotely requires work, but with the right strategies, you can become an excellent teacher of Psychology.
(2022) Number and percentage of students enrolled in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by distance education participation, location of student, level of enrollment, and control and level of institution: Fall 2020 and fall 2021. In: National Center for Education Statistics.
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