8 Tasks of Online Education

Online education is not easy. I know that I often don’t feel like I am doing the job that I think I should be doing for my students. Part of my trouble is that I often just don’t feel like I have enough time  to do the job that I want to do for my students. But sometimes it is more about not knowing exactly what I should be doing.

Here are eight tasks that we maybe need to try and fulfill in our modules.

  1. Tour guide
    Teachers guide students through the learning experience
  2. Cheer leader
    Encourage students to keep doing what they are doing, or to get more involved in the module.
  3. Learning coach
    Teachers should give students opportunities to experience and practice skills under guidance.
  4. Individual and group mirror
    Students need feedback on how they are doing.
  5. Social butterfly
    Like a great party host, teachers need to facilitate social interactions in the online space.
  6. Big brother
    Check up on students who are not engaging with the course, or who have missed important pages.
  7. Valve control
    Control the pace at which students are able to access and engage with work.
  8. Co-learner
    Teachers should never stop learning

(For a video to perhaps hold in tension with this, see Sugata Mitra speaking on the future of education, and a pedagogy that relies in some ways on the absence of the teacher)

What would happen if we were to take these functions and put them into a marking rubric for ourselves? How would we score as online educators? Take a few moments to think about your personal style and workload in class. Maybe score yourself on a scale of 0 – 5 for the above 8 tasks. How happy are you with your self-assessment?


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