Q&A: Can I Request a Specific Teacher Online?

Question: I have a friend who has taken classes at an online school that I am planning to attend. Can I request a specific teacher?

Answer: Isn't it great when our friends give us a good recommendation? When it comes to teachers, the goal is to have an instructor who is knowledgeable in the subject. When a student finds a teacher that they like, they usually tell their academic counselor and even their friends. Often, you can sign up for a class section scheduled to be taught by a specific instructor, but there are a few factors that could come into play as to whether your desired instructor is assigned to teach the course that session.

For larger online schools, there are usually several instructors assigned to the same department and who teach the same course. For example, there may be 100 instructors in the business department with 50 of those instructors teaching a human resources class. Those 50 instructors could be assigned to teach the class on a rotational basis throughout the year or years. Whether the instructor you want is assigned a class could be based on the instructor's availability as well as the number of students needing instruction in the field.

However, you don't need to be discouraged if you are assigned an instructor other than the one you desire. Colleges and universities choose qualified, knowledgeable individuals to instruct their courses. Depending on the type of class you are taking, most college instructors have a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in their teaching field. Also, schools typically seek out teachers who have relevant career or prior teaching experience in the field.

It's important to make an effort to be open-minded in your classes in regards to instructors. Building a teacher-student relationship online can be difficult and can take a few interactions. Remember to respond to all of your teacher's messages and to engage in online communication whenever and however possible. This could mean making comments on a discussion board or asking questions regarding assignments and feedback of your instructor. As long as your instructor is knowledgeable on the subject and can assist you in learning, you should be in good hands.

Dr. Beverley BrowningDr. Beverly A. Browning (Dr. Bev) has been a higher education adjunct faculty member for over 25 years. She has taught in the classroom and online for multiple colleges and universities including the University of Phoenix, Spring Arbor College, Baker College of Flint, Mott Community College, and Rio Salado College. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan, Spring Arbor College and Mott Community College. She is currently an online instructor for ed2go.com (Cengage Learning). In addition to founding and directing the Grant Writing Training Foundation, Dr. Bev is also Vice President of Grants Professional Services for eCivis, Inc. She is the author over over 37 grant-related publications and a frequent keynote speaker and workshop presenter for national and regional conferences. Dr. Bev is a product of lifelong learning and an advocate for online teaching and learning!