I read an article on The Chronicle of Higher Education website titled The 4 Properties of Powerful Teachers which I thought was very interesting. It aligned well with the information from Chapter 6, Teaching and the Roles of the Instructor, from our required reading list. The article lists four qualities which it claims are key for a person to possess in order to be a powerful teacher.
After reading Chapter 6 from Moore and Kearsley (2012) I have to agree with this assessment. I think these four qualities are even more important for distance education teachers. Moore and Kearsley (2012) explain the importance of keeping a balance between interaction and presentation. A distance education teacher has to create a virtual environment with quality materials where students want to be engaged. To relay personality, a DE teacher’s only option is to use the written word. This can be achieved in multiple ways from explaining it in a biography to using informal conversational styles while responding to discussion posts. A face to face teacher has the ability to portray a personality in body language, live conversation, and written word. It is much easier for a student to sense a teacher’s personality by interacting with them in person than through only written word.
Presence is very important in distance education. I would argue that it is more important in DE than it is in f2f settings. A teacher in a f2f setting can display their presence by simply being in the room. A DE teacher must use encouraging feedback, thoughtful interactions, and demonstrable knowledge to show presence in an online class.
I think that preparation is the same for both f2f and DE teachers. A f2f teacher must ensure they have materials in the classroom and they are up-to-date and knowledgeable on the subject in which they will be teaching. A DE teacher must make sure all links are working properly and that the correct information is available to students. They must also show they are prepared by being able to engage in discussion with students with relevant information.
I personally feel that passion is the number one quality that sets bad teachers apart from good teachers, whether its DE or f2f. If you are passionate about what you are teaching it will show in your interactions whether through written word or in person. If you are passionate about teaching you will naturally want to stay prepared and relevant in your field. In addition, a passionate teacher will want to share that passion with their students.
I think a successful online program is one that possesses teachers with all four qualities and which has incorporated new technology into the way they teach.