How To Teach Online In America


Teaching online is a quite popular subject these days. This article will show you how to teach online in America.

In order to teach online in America you need to:

  • Understand The Basics 
    • Legal Requirements
    • Time Zones
  • Gather The Equipment
    • Laptop Or Computer
    • Video Recording
    • Audio Recording
  • Buy / Download Suitable Software
    • Text
    • Graphics
    • Audio
    • Screencast
    • Video Editing
  • Start Your Own Course
    • Outline Your Course
    • Choose A Delivery Method
    • Apply A Pricing Model
    • Prepare Training Content
    • Host Your Content
  • Choose An Online Teaching Company
    • iTutor
    • Vnaya
    • USAK Education
    • Novakid
    • Accent Advisor

Now you know what topics are covered in this article. Let’s jump in to get a better understanding of how exactly you should teach online in America. 

Understand The Basics

Before anything else, you need to understand the basic aspects related to online teaching in America. These aspects include but are not limited to:

  • Legal Requirements
    • Educational Prerequisites
    • Background Check
  • Time Zones
  • Target Audience

Legal Requirements

There are several legal requirements you need to be aware of when starting your online teaching career. These are linked to your knowledge (expertise) and your legal background (taxes, criminal record, etc.). 

Educational Prerequisites

Most online teaching companies require their teachers to provide a valid certification on their desired topic. For example, if you are planning on teaching online architecture in America then you will probably be asked to demonstrate your previously-earned architecture certification. Generally, a Bachelor’s Degree diploma is enough to prove your knowledge. 

Background Check

If you are planning on working for an online teaching company then you should expect a background check to be performed. This activity includes tax verification (Tax ID, VAT payment, etc.). Moreover, you will probably be asked to provide them with a copy of your updated criminal record. This way your employer makes sure that you are a legal worker and are paying all your taxes. 

Time Zones

When teaching online you have to be aware of the time zone difference. When teaching online in America you need to also take into account the difference between your country’s time zone and one of the six time zones that are used in the USA. These time zones include:

  • (H.S.T.) Hawaii Standard Time (UTC -10) – e.g. Honolulu
  • (A.K.D.T.) Alaska Daylight Time (UTC -8) – e.g. Anchorage
  • (P.D.T.) Pacific Daylight Time (UTC -7) – e.g. Los Angeles
  • (M.S.T.) Mountain Standard Time (UTC -7) – e.g. Phoenix
  • (M.D.T.) Mountain Daylight Time (UTC -6) – e.g. Salt Lake City
  • (C.D.T.) Central Daylight Time (UTC -5) – e.g. Chicago
  • (E.D.T.) Eastern Daylight Time (UTC -4) – e.g. New York

Make sure you properly understand the time zone difference so that you will be able to coordinate with your students during live classes.

Gather The Equipment

After understanding the basics of online teaching in America it is time to gather the appropriate equipment. You have to choose the pieces of equipment in accordance with the subject you are planning on teaching. Below I have prepared a list pointing out the most popular hardware online educators around the world use. 

Laptop Or Computer

This is the most important piece of equipment when teaching online. It allows you to perform a wide variety of tasks, ranging from the course and content creation to delivering the content and meeting your students during live classes. There are certain specifications you need to take into account when choosing a laptop/computer for online teaching. These characteristics include but are not limited to:

  • Processor (Generation and Speed)
  • Gigs of RAM
  • SSD / HDD

Generally any computer less than 4 years old of around $500 will do for this style of training.  For most training online an i3 or i5 Intel processor with 4 gigs of RAM with a solid-state disk (SSD) or 8 gigs so RAM with an older style hard drive is more than enough. 

The required specifications of your computer are directly linked to the complexity of software you are planning on using. If you are going to perform multiple tasks at the same time then you might want to stick to the latter option (i5 Intel processor with 8 gigs of RAM). Otherwise, you can complete all your tasks with a basic laptop (i3 Intel processor with 4 gigs of RAM).

To learn more about which is the best computer setup for online teaching, I suggest reading the following article:

ARTICLE: eLearning Authoring: A Perfect Professionals Computer Setup

Video Recording

Having a high-quality webcam is one of the most important aspects of teaching online. There are pros and cons when it comes to teaching live online but my opinion is that it is one of the best ways of keeping your students interested. 

Taking part in a live meeting is way more interesting than reading boring written material. I strongly suggest taking a look at the following article to get a better understanding of the actual advantages of including live meetings in your online course:

ARTICLE: Teaching Live Online: The Pros and Cons

If you are using a laptop then it probably has an integrated web camera. Due to the poor footage quality of this piece of equipment I strongly advise against using it for online teaching. My suggestion is to go to an electronics shop and buy a dedicated camera. 

Besides the enhanced footage quality a dedicated camera may include certain functions that will make your videos more interesting. These functions may include:

  • Greenscreen
  • Light Adjustment
  • Background Removal

Despite the general opinion you do not have to pay an arm and a leg in order to get a decent quality camera. If you can not decide what dedicated camera to buy I strongly suggest taking a look at the Recommended Tools page to find out what type of camera worked the best for me.

Audio Recording

A high-quality microphone is just as important as a web camera. The situation is similar to the above-mentioned piece of equipment. Using the built-in microphone will result in a poor-quality audio recording.

I strongly suggest spending some extra money on a high-quality dedicated microphone. Just like a camera, it may include additional helpful functions. These functions may include but are not limited to:

  • Noise Cancelling
  • Voice Filters
  • Adaptive Sensitivity
  • Volume Equalizer

If you are not yet decided on what you want to use, I suggest you take a look at my favorite dedicated microphone.

Buy / Download Suitable Software

Having the best software is just as important as owning high-quality hardware. Therefore I have prepared you a list containing the best applications you can use to create, edit, and manage your training content. Below you will find it sorted by the content format.

Text

The most popular tools you can use to create and edit text are:

If you want to create digital training manuals you can use one of the following:

Graphics

If you want to capture screenshots to use it as training content you can take advantage of:

Here are the graphics editing applications available are:

Audio

Among the most popular software used for audio recording and editing are:

Screencast

As well as recording with your phone, webcam, or camera to use in your training content you can also record your computer screen as well.

For screencast purposes you can choose one of the following tools:

If you are unsure whether to use screencasts as training content for your students I recommend taking a look at the following article.

ARTICLE: Spice Up Your eLearning With A Screencast

Video Editing

After you’ve finished recording your video, to edit the raw footage you can use:

You can find out my personal recommendations for all of the above tools for all content types by taking a look at the Recommended Tools page.  They are the ones I use myself.

After creating the training content you are planning on using when teaching online in America it is time to choose between the two available options:

  • Creating Your Own Course
  • Working For An Online Teaching Company

Each option has its advantages and disadvantages. Let’s find out which one works best for you.

Creating Your Own Course

Creating your own course is a great way to provide your students with training content without having to work with a third-party. Below I have listed the main advantages and disadvantages of creating an online course.

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Choose your desired pricing modelYou have to advertise the course yourself 
You can use your preferred contentSome hosting solutions require a paid subscription
Flexible teaching schedule

If you think that this is the suitable option for your training content, let’s see what exactly you need to determine before actually teaching your own online course in America. 

Outline Your Course

There are several aspects you need to define in the first place. These will help you guide the rest of the course creation process. These aspects include but are not limited to:

  • Target Audience (Students’ Persona)
  • Course Title

Target Audience

It is crucial to know who you will be teaching. Before working on demographics you should think about why exactly you are creating this course. Some of the most popular reasons are:

  • As part of a formal qualification
  • To train
    • My staff
    • My customers
    • My volunteers
    • Hobbyists

After determining the exact reason why you are creating this online course in America you can continue and create your students’ persona. A persona is a set of important characteristics that are applicable to all your students. The most important traits of your students’ persona are:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Geographic location
  • English language competencies
  • Prerequisites (educational background)
  • Learning style
  • Language, Literacy, and Numeracy (LLS) skills
  • Working Domain

Course Title

The title is the first thing your students will notice about your course. This is one of the most important reasons why you should make it catchy and easy to remember. Optimizing it for the search engines (SEO) will allow you to rank higher in the search results. This way you will be able to gain more impressions (views) and recruit more students. 

There are 5 key characteristics of a great course title:

  • Less than 60 characters – google only shows this many in search results
  • Audience Focused – think of the level of your students
  • Specific – narrow down the niche
  • Entice the Students – catchy marketing name
  • Using SEO keywords – using the google alphabet soup or keyword research methods

Make sure you pick a catchy name for your course.

Choose A Delivery Method

After defining the outline of your course it is time to choose a suitable delivery method. This is the method you will use to deliver training content to your students. 

Some of the available delivery methods are:

  • eLearning
    • Third-Party Website
    • Private LMS
    • Training Package
  • Audio Conference
  • Podcast
  • Video Conference
  • Web Conference
  • Live Virtual Classroom

Each option comes with advantages and disadvantages. If you want to know all the ways to teach online (also applicable to America) make sure to check out the article below:

ARTICLE: How Can I Teach Online?

Apply A Pricing Model

There are plenty of pricing models available for online courses. Before actually setting a starting price for your online course you need to determine the answers to four distinct questions. These answers will guide you throughout the price-determining process. 

  • Why are you creating this course?
  • How will you deliver the training content?
  • How many similar courses are available on the Internet?
  • What are the prices of the above-mentioned courses?

When deciding a starting price for your online course in America you need to take into account a set of factors. These aspects include but are not limited to:

  • Your Time (Price Per Working Hour)
  • Course Expenses
    • Creating Content (Hardware, Software, etc.)
    • Hosting The Course 
    • Other Costs (Logistics, Additional Equipment, etc.)
  • Target Profit (~35%)

In order to get a better understanding of the pricing models you can apply on your online course in America  I suggest taking a look at the following article:

ARTICLE: 10 eLearning Pricing Models Online Teachers Must Know

Prepare Training Content

Creating training content for your online course is one of the most important activities. The outcome of this activity will have a great influence on your overall success as an online teacher. Make sure to use all the available tools and take advantage of the enhanced functions of your hardware. 

Things may not work as expected on the first try. That is why you always need to improve your training content. Having compatible tools allow you to create, edit, and manage training content even after exporting it. My suggestion is to pick an authoring tool that allows you to perform all the three above-mentioned tasks. 

If you can not decide on an authoring tool for your online course in America then I suggest taking a look at the Recommended Tools page. There you will find the ones that I use myself. 

Host Your Content

Last but not least, hosting your training content online is another important part of creating your own course. When it comes to this step you have two main option available:

  • Learning Management System (LMS)
  • Third-Party Training Platform

Both options come with certain advantages and disadvantages. Let’s see which one is suitable for your online course in America.

Learning Management System (LMS)

A Learning Management System (commonly referred to as LMS) is an online tool that allows educators to deliver and guide their students’ training. Its many  features enhanced interactivity between students and teachers. 

The core features of an LMS are:

  • User Security
  • Content Storage
  • Scheduling Events
  • Assessment and Tracking
  • Teacher-Student Interactivity
  • Payment Handling Methods
  • And more.

To learn more about learning management systems and their features I suggest taking a look at the following article:

ARTICLE: What are the features of a Learning Management System?

The most popular LMS available in America are:

Moodle

http://moodle.org

Moodle is one of the most popular LMS available worldwide. It is an open-source tool so anyone can use it for free. The only service you may need to pay for is hosting.

If you have your own web hosting provider you do not have to worry about paying for Moodle. However, if you do not have a custom domain you will have to pay for the cloud-hosted version of Moodle. 

The complete list of features Moodle provides can be found here. If you notice Moodle lacks one certain feature that you may need you can always take a look at the plugins database. All the plugins are available for free as well.

To learn more about how to use Moodle for your online geography course, you can take a look at the following articles: Moodle Articles

Google Classroom

http://classroom.google.com

Google Classroom is a learning management system that is available worldwide. It can be used without any paid subscription by individual educators and eligible schools. However, if you are not eligible for the free version you need to pay a subscription fee that is calculated in accordance with the number of students and teachers you will add. 

Among the features that Google Classroom offers, the most noteworthy are:

  • Cloud storage (through Google Drive)
  • Web conferences (using Google Meet)
  • Assessment & Quizzes (using Google Forms)
  • Grading methods
  • And more.

You can see the complete list of articles that are related to Google Classroom here:

Google Classroom Articles

Other quite-popular LMS are:

Third-Party Teaching Platform

This is the second option you got when it comes to hosting your online course. There are plenty of platforms that allow teachers to upload their training content and monetize it. The main advantage of this hosting method is related to marketing. You gain access to a database containing thousands of students. All you have to do is to create amazing content and advertise it using a catchy title. 

The most popular third-party teaching platforms are:

Choose An Online Teaching Company

If you do not want to start your own course then you should choose an online tutoring company. This type of companies hire online educators and connect them with students that want to learn a particular subject. There are plenty of such companies around the world. Below I have prepared a list containing five of the most popular online teaching companies you can work for in America. 

iTutor

https://www.itutor.com/

iTutor is one of the most popular online education platform. It is based in America and connects online educators directly with school districts in the United States of America. Their main requirement in terms of online teachers is to be accredited for online education. There are plenty of subjects you can teach when working for this company (i.e. English, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, etc.). 

The payment depends on the subject taught and your experience. Generally, you can earn between $10 and $20 per teaching hour. 

Vnaya

https://www.vnaya.com/

Vnaya is an American online teaching company that allows educators to teach one-on-one classes to North American students. This service is only available for K-12 students that are interested in English, Maths, and Science. The payment depends on your availability, location, and teaching experience. 

USAK Education

http://www.uaskedu.ca/

This is one of the most popular online teaching companies available in America. It allows English and French teachers to connect with Chinese students that want to learn these two foreign languages. Please note that this company has some harsh requirements for the applicant teachers. In order to be eligible for working with USAK Education, you need a TEFL/TESOL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language/Teaching English as a Second Language), a valid university degree, and at least one year of teaching experience. 

The good news is that this company provides you with all the materials you will need when teaching online (i.e. lesson plans, training content, exams, etc.). If you are planning on working with USAK then you will teach small groups (1 to 5 students). The students are usually between 4 and 18 years old. 

The payment depends on the number of students you are working with, your teaching experience, and the subject you are teaching. Generally, you earn anywhere between $18 and $30 per teaching hour. If you are interested in becoming a full-time online teacher then you can apply to such a position in the USAK Education company. Simply email their Human Resources Department and ask for further information (hr@usak58.com).

Novakid

https://novakid.atlassian.net/

Novakid is a less popular online teaching company. It allows educators to take part in one-on-one classes with students from all around the world. Only native English speakers are allowed to apply for an online teaching position. If you are born in USA, UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa then this is the right company for you. The payment is fixed at $16 per teaching hour. 

If you are planning on applying for an online teaching job at Novakid then you must have a valid university degree as well as at least one year of teaching experience. In terms of schedule, it is one of the most flexible companies. However, the weekly minimum is 10 teaching hours. 

Accent Advisor

https://careers.accentadvisor.com/

Accent Advisor is one of the premium teaching companies based in America. They are specialized in teaching adults that live in the United States and want to minimize their foreign language accent. In terms of requirements, applicants must have a North American accent and at least two years of teaching experience. You do not have to earn a valid university degree or a TEFL/TESOL certificate but please note that these two may represent a real advantage when applying for an online teaching position. 

You can set your own schedule anywhere between 15 and 40 hours per week. The payment is fixed at $15. However, every time you reach 500 teaching hours, your hourly fee is increased by $1. The maximum salary is up to $20 per teaching hour. There are some advantageous terms in their contracts. For example, if your student does not join the scheduled meeting you will get paid in full for your time. The same principle applies if your student cancels the meeting less than two hours before it starts. I strongly suggest taking a careful look at the Accent Advisor Terms of Service, in order to prevent misunderstandings while working for this company. 

Glen Brown

I am a Technical Trainer and Manager with over 20 years experience in IT, Education and Business. I have multiple qualifications on each topic including post graduate qualifications. I have a passion for sharing knowledge and using technology to do this. If you would like to know more about me please see the about page of the website.

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