An internship or part-time or summer job at a school that offers distance education programs will provide valuable insights into the field and work-related contacts that can be helpful in the future. If you are still in school, consult with your career services office for information about internships and jobs that may be available at your school or in other academic institutions.
Learn more about the issues, policies, news, and technological developments in the distance learning industry by visiting the Web sites of professional associations, such as the United States Distance Learning Association (https://www.usdla.org) and Learning Forward (https://learningforward.org). Another way to find out if this type of work is for you is by speaking with a distance learning coordinator. Set up an information interview to find out how the DL coordinator got started in this career and what they find to be most rewarding and challenging about the job.
Distance learning (DL) coordinators oversee the daily operations of DL programs offered by colleges, universities, and other academic institutions. These are Web-based educational programs in which courses are offered online. Coordinators help develop the goals or plans of the distance learning programs, such as the courses that will be offered, the equipment used, and the quality assurance standards that are implented and maintained to ensure that quality education is provided. They supervise staff members of the DL department. They also train the distance learning teachers and staff in the procedures and tools of the DL programs, such as course management software.
The job entails daily communication with faculty, students, and staff, to keep all apprised of the online courses that are being offered and to also keep everyone up to date on any changes to the schedules, materials, services, or applications related to the DL programs. Distance learning coordinators periodically monitor and assess instructors' lectures to ensure that the topics discussed and the quality of the lectures meets the school's standards and curricula requirements.
In addition to strong communication skills, distance learning coordinators must also be well versed in information technology. They use computers and electronics daily in this job, not only for online communications but also to oversee the development of multimedia presentations that feature graphics, video, and audio. Some examples of the different types of software programs distance learning coordinators use include computer-based training software, user interface and query software, and video-conferencing software.