Common Challenges Faced by Novice Online Teachers and How Those Can Be Addressed: Lessons Learned from a Case Study Research

Concurrent Session 5
Streamed Session Research

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Brief Abstract

This presentation discusses the key challenges of becoming online teachers as reported by seven participants aspiring to be online teachers who took a 3 credit hybrid online course at a U.S. university to prepare them to teach online. It also discusses how they resolved their concerns and faced the challenges.

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With a background in English language and literature teaching and being interested in teacher development Dr. Syeda Farzana Hafsa came to the U.S. to pursue a Ph.D. in education. Initially her research interest was in English teacher training and professional development. After taking a hybrid-online course at the University of Rochester she developed an interest in online teaching learning and saw its great potential not only in developed countries like the U.S. but also in developing ones like Bangladesh. With her new-found interest, she pursued the Advanced Certificate in Online Teaching which allowed her to gain knowledge about online teaching learning, affordances and limitations of online education, designing and teaching effective online courses and understanding where online and face-to-face education intersects. This ultimately led her to choose to do her dissertation research on online teachers’ identity development. While her broad area of interest still remains teachers’ professional development, she would like to continue her research on online education and would like to promote it in her country and to contribute to preparing effective online teachers. She is also interested in using technology in language teaching- specifically teaching English and Bengali. She has over 15 years of teaching experience in different universities in Bangladesh and in the U.S. As a Fulbright Scholar she also taught Bengali at NC State University and at UNC Chapel Hill.

Extended Abstract

There is a growing number of online courses offered at higher education institutions across the world, especially in countries like the U.S., U.K. and Canada. Research shows that there is a connection between learning outcomes and the quality of the course design and teaching, and therefore, it is critical for higher education institutions to prepare high-quality online teachers to design and teach effective online courses. To prepare competent online teachers, it would be helpful for programs preparing online teachers to know more about the common challenges experienced by novice online teachers – and how these teachers can be supported in overcoming these challenges. A review of literature shows that some studies have identified some challenges online teachers might face while starting to teach online. However, there is a very limited empirical research available that report on the kind of challenges novice online teachers face and how these can be addressed in programs preparing online teachers. My study accounts the challenges of becoming online teachers as reported by a group of seven participants aspiring to be online teachers who took a three-credit hybrid online course at a U.S. university to prepare them to teach online. The key challenges identified by most of the participants were: a) negative perceptions about online learning and teaching in their fields; b) prior negative experiences as online students; c) concerns regarding how to establish a relationship with students and a community of learners in an online course d) concerns about whether online learning would be as effective as face-to-face learning. It is evident from the findings that the concerns were resolved for all of the participants. This study also reports on what contributed to resolving the participants’ concerns and discusses what online teacher preparation programs can do to address the challenges and how they can support online teachers to prepare them to face those challenges.


  • To make this presentation interactive, participants would be asked triggering questions and encouraged to participate in the discussions – 2/3 people will be asked to share their own challenges as online teachers.
  • Additionally, 1/2 persons will be asked to share their experience in online teacher preparation programs.  
  • The session will also be made interactive by sharing real life experience and humor.

Key takeaways from the presentation:

  • The participants will be able to discuss challenges faced by novice or even experienced online teachers
  • They will learn about the ways to deal with the challenges
  • They will learn about how to address these challenges in online teacher preparation programs or online teacher trainings and how novice online teachers can be prepared to face these challenges in future.