In recent intake interviews with new students of education at West Texas A&M University, I found that teaching online is the new Holy Grail for many young K-12 educators. They dream about how wonderful it would be to spend part of their day working from home in their bunny slippers and to conduct meaningful interactions with students via Skype while preparing dinner. To this group, teaching online means never having to be anywhere at any particular time, never having to wear uncomfortable "professional clothes," and never being asked a question without having time to research the answer.
After two decades in online teaching in both the corporate world and higher education, I regret to report that the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side of the network connection. While online teaching offers many rewards for instructors, it takes a special set of skills and attitudes to excel at it. And these are emphatically not the same skills and attitudes that make an exceptional classroom teacher. Here's the mindset it takes to be a successful online teacher: