Can I teach college online part-time? Do I qualify?

NYC Gap App ChallengeMany teachers and other professionals are looking for ways to make extra money, or perhaps spend part of their time mentoring and teaching upcoming professionals. Did you know there are over 14 million online college courses being taught in any one year? An estimated 28% of college students take an online course at any one time. Meanwhile, “Only 29.1% of academic leaders report that their faculty accept the value and legitimacy of online education.” So where are those instructors coming from?

You may have often thought about whether or not you’re qualified to teach at the college or university level online as an adjunct, or part-time contractor. If you have any college degree, the answer is most likely, YES.

Do Advanced Degrees and Certificates Help?

  • A Ph.D. is more valued than an M.A.
  • However, not all degree programs want Ph.D.’s.
  • You can teach online without a graduate degree.
  • Take multiple online courses for experience as an online learner.
  • A Certification in Online Teaching goes a long way to convince an employer you’re prepared to teach online.

Advanced Degrees

A lot of people ask, “Do I need to have a Ph.D. to teach at the college level?” No, you don’t. Most accredited college and university programs typically prefer applicants with doctorates to teach at the Master’s and Doctoral levels. A doctoral degree is more valued than a Master’s degree, but not all degree programs necessarily want Ph.D.’s, and that’s particularly true in many practitioner-based programs. Some programs purposely seek out expert practitioners, people currently working in the field, not professors, not researchers, not Ph.D.’s, but people who have hands-on experience in whatever content area that they’re teaching.  So, you’ll want to understand the type of faculty the program you’re interested in is hiring.

What level of college can you teach? Typically, when looking at higher education teaching jobs:

  • You have Bachelor’s degree> teach undergraduate only
  • You have Master’s degree> teach undergraduate and some introductory Master’s level courses
  • You have Doctorate> teach all levels

Online Courses & Workshops

Even if you don’t have degrees or certificates related to educational technology or online teaching, you can take online courses or workshops and note those in your resume.  Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are one way to get exposure to online courses, but be aware they are only one very limited type of online teaching, and probably not representative of the type of online teaching that you will be hired to do.  It is essential to experience online learning as a student before you attempt to teach online.  You can also register in inexpensive online courses at Udemy or Udacity, for example.

Online Teaching Certificates

A certificate in online teaching shows you’ve completed several courses of in-depth study at the graduate level. Certificates aren’t required to teach college online (although some states have started to add required endorsements at the K-12 level).  

However, imagine that you’re a chair of a university program and you need to hire someone to teach online for you as an adjunct, part-time or full-time. Let’s say it’s a History department, and I’m the department chair who has two resumes in front of me. One resume belongs to a candidate who has a Master’s degree in history and some teaching experience, and the second resume is a person who has a degree in history, teaching experience, and they have a certificate in online teaching. Automatically, as an employer, I’m going to lean towards that person who has a certificate in online teaching. It’s a quick indicator to me that the person has more in-depth study in online teaching, and some level of confidence that they have multiple experiences in learning as an online student, designing online instruction, and leading and facilitating students online. Some recognized programs for certification include:

Online Teaching Graduate Degree Programs

If you are considering specializing in online education full-time, you may want to consider completing a  Master’s Degree in Online Learning or Educational Technology.  A Master’s degree can typically be completed in two years.  Some recognized programs include:

Want to learn more?

book cover

This blog is first in a five part series to help you get focused on finding a job teaching college part-time online.

If you’re looking for additional tips with finding and landing online teaching jobs, get a free digital copy of my book, Find Online Teaching Jobs Now! College Edition, through April 24th, 2017 at Amazon!


If we’re living in a simulation, the singularity is here

(2011, Dawley). Teaching class in virtual world, Dr. David Gibson guest speaker.

Last year, I came across an article and video where Elon Musk proposed that we are living inside a simulation, “…that our odds this is base reality are one in billions,” an advanced form of technology where we are characters in an ever-manifesting role play, where our code base is written in atoms, molecules and DNA.

As a sci fi aficionado and a person who has researched, played, taught, and lived(!) in simulations and virtual worlds, I was intrigued by the simulation hypothesis, but initially responded to the claims, “No, definitely crazy talk.” Diving deeper into Elon’s and other arguments, the light bulb switched on, and I, too, was convinced the likelihood we are living in a simulation is very probable.

To understand this argument, you must first sustain your belief that technology equals machines or robots. “How can I be a simulated technology if I have blood, skin, veins?” To the pro-simulation believers, everything you see, touch, feel is a form of technology, all built on atoms as our base building blocks with DNA as our historical genetic code that evolves over time (this Quora post explains how living things are differentiated from non-living things, if molecules and the atoms they’re made of, are present in everything). Think of the advancing role of biotech over the centuries, from cultivation of plants and domestication of animals to Musk’s neural lace interface connecting our brain to AI, and the experimental geoengineering of weather. Humans seem predisposed to manipulate, control and reinvent their environment. The tools just keep getting more advanced.

Nick Bostrom (2003) began the argument by claiming at least one of the below is true:

  1. the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a “posthuman” stage;
  2. any posthuman population civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof);
  3. we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation.

The main problem I have with the first two of Bostrom’s arguments is that they assume a human-centric view, and imply it is our future selves running the simulation. Who says the creators of this simulation are human? Much like we have created science simulation games that allow us to tweak fantasy species or the environment to see what happens, humans on Earth may be the characters in another species’ advanced technology.

Pro Simulation Theory Arguments

  • Technology is exponentially increasing, doubling in capacity, function and AI capability every year. Today we have highly interactive games, simulations and virtual worlds with over 1B user accounts around the world (KZero has the best data on growth in virtual worlds that I know). These simulations are becoming more immersive with the use of virtual reality, augmented reality, haptic devices, and brain interfaces. If we are only 15 years or so into commercial virtual worlds, and tech capability doubles annually, in 40 years we’ll be a trillion times more advanced than we are today. Technology will be creating itself, humans will need interfaces to keep up. Can you imagine a species 10,000 years or 100,000 years older than us? How have they advanced their technology?
  • Universal laws appear mathematical, and as any computer programmer knows, games and simulations are built on laws of mathematics and logic. Ideas from information theory keep appearing in quantum physics. One very important concept is the observer effect, where reality or matter doesn’t exist until you measure it, and the instruments used to measure it can influence whether it will become a wave or particle.
  • As human’s age, their use of virtual worlds and sims evolves. In 2012, I published this chart (data courtesy of KZero), showing how younger children prefer simulations around books, TV, media, then evolving into social interaction, role-play and games as pre-teens, and finally ending in content creation and mirror worlds as adults. This evolution is part of what makes me believe we are the self-aware technology creating the new technology (see the Singularity event below).

One of the more entertaining questions about us living in a simulation is what if there is a bug? Some have humorously proposed that the 2017 Oscars snafu and the unexpected election of President Trump are prime examples of something gone wrong in the simulation. Other futurists and a couple of tech billions are taking a more pro-active stance, and working to break us out of the simulation. And wasn’t this what we feared all along, the “robots” controlling their own destiny?

Con Simulation Theory Arguments

  • Limited computing power – opponents argue that the computer processing power to run a global simulation that accounts for travel through the solar system and observation of the universe with universal laws doesn’t exist. Again, from my perspective, this is a current and limited human-centric view. We have billions of suns and black holes in the universe, capable of producing more energy than can be imagined by the human mind. We are, after all, powered on Earth, yes? And much like video games where the world emerges as it comes into your view, the observer effect in quantum mechanics does the same thing in real life. We see things as our technology advances and gives us the ability to see, and manifest, it.
  • Humans are mostly interested in themselves. No higher species would want to simulate them. Again, humans already invented simulations that give fantasy characters the ability to evolve as you tweak a feature here or there, just to see what happens. What if the human race is this form of simulation on a much larger and more elaborate scale?
  • Many humans live in poverty and extreme suffering. If the creator was ethical, why create such painful circumstances? These questions have always been asked about the creator of the universe, whether it is God, an advanced species or our future selves. The global eradication of poverty is a growing part of our human evolution, with philanthropists such as Bill Gates investing hundreds of millions of dollars for this purpose, and the United Nations progressively establishing goals and a sustainability agenda toward this end. Perhaps a necessary part of our evolution as a species isn’t to rely on the creator for the fix, but to use the tools at our disposal to fix it ourselves.
  • The argument is a violation of Occam’s razor, if there are two explanations for any occurrence, the simpler one is usually better. I don’t know, I think the fact we are living in a simulation explains a hell of a lot 🙂

Is the Singularity Here?

The Technology Singularity is a an event in time where technology becomes self-aware and surpasses the capabilities of humans. AI expert predictions place this event somewhere about 2040. If we are indeed living in a simulation, and the technology (the people in it) are starting to become aware of it, and investing millions of dollars to “break out” of the simulation, then the singularity is indeed already here.

I was fascinated to learn that Ray Kurzweil, futurist, a major author on the singularity, and director of engineering at Google is buying up AI companies and technologies at a very large scale. He is working on building intelligent chatbots that digest your writing, and have customized interactions with you, as we sit in our homes now talking to Alexa, Google Home, and Siri.

Curious where we go from here given exponential technology advancement? Check out these prediction charts 5, 10, 20, 40 and even 50 years in the future.

Ultimately, does it matter if we are the base world or if we’re living in a simulation? On a daily basis, probably not. We continue on and work to stay present in the moment, enjoying the life, family, friends and work we have. To others, it opens doors of unexplored possibilities and new horizons beyond our wildest dreams.

Your thoughts?

Epic Academy: Personalized PD for Your School

This is a repost from Rezzly, a learning technology platform that offers monthly teacher workshops online and a gamified LMS. I’ve known Lucas for many years, and he brought me into the world of Minecraft in the classroom. In our conversations about his personalized teacher professional development program in his district, Epic Academy, I was fascinated to hear how the teachers are responding to quest-based and gamified professional development that is designed around their learning needs, and showcasing their badges outside their classrooms. Great stuff!


Epic Academy: Personalized PD for Your School

March 1-13, 2017

Imagine a personalized professional development program in your school or district that helps teachers engage with the latest topics based on their own needs and interests. Join Lucas Gillispie, Director of Academic and Digital Learning for Surry County Schools in North Carolina, and creator of Epic Academy, a quest-based professional development program in North Carolina where teachers throughout the state are questing and connecting around such topics as how to use YouTube in the Classroom, Being a Connected Educator, the SAMR tech integration model and more. Hear about his success and challenges, and get tools and strategies for starting a personalized professional development program in your school or district!

  • Play quests anytime at your own pace
  • Attend optional synchronous events
  • Fully facilitated by Lucas Gillispie

Lucas is a passionate gamer and educator exploring the intersection of games and learning. He is the creator of the WoWinSchool Project, exploring the educational potential of online games like World of Warcraft with middle schoolers, was one of the earliest pioneers to bring Minecraft into classrooms, and is working to build game-inspired professional development for teachers in his district through his EPIC Academy program.

Legendary educators can participate in Epic Academy at no cost, or register here for $79 (includes three month access to Rezzly).

New Rezzly 2017 workshops & features!

Hello friends! We’re excited to announce a new series of teacher workshops and platform features in Rezzly for 2017!


Check out our new facilitated Teacher Camps, starting in February 8th with Google Classroom & Tech Integration hosted by guild officer Mark Suter, Henry Ford Innovator Teacher of the Year!  Some of our workshops include:

  • Epic Academy: Create personalized professional development for your school or district
  • Play This, Learn That: Learn to add commercial video games to your classroom curriculum
  • Exploring Personalized Learning: how to empower students by creating ownership of their own learning
  • Edupreneurs in the Classroom: starting a classroom business with students as entrepreneurs and innovators
  • Minecraft for Teachers: It’s back! Join Lucas Gillispie to explore how to start a Minecraft program in your class or school
  • Coding for Everyone: Computer science that is fun and keeps everyone engaged
  • Social Media for Teachers: Start or add to your personalized learning network, and learn to use social media in the classroom

**All Rezzly Legendary accounts get free access to our workshops, found inside the Quest Armory. Hope to see you there!


We’re ramping up development in 2017 and currently working on single sign-on with Google and Canvas (LTI). Before summer arrives, you’ll also see a new avatar creator, as a first step toward creating items that can be awarded to students to add to their avatar. We’re also adding integration with the OpenEd library in the Quest Builder, giving you access to tens of thousands of free educational assets you can integrate into your quests.

We literally have hundreds of features we’d love to see in the platform. Feel free to add any wishlist function using the HELP button inside Rezzly. Our focus in 2017 will be on giving our users some new, engaging function and content, along with the development we need as a platform to integrate into a larger educational technology ecosystem, essential to support scaling of the platform.

We appreciate our teacher innovators–game on!

Idaho statewide teen game design camp

For immediate release:

Idaho Digital Learning
Mike Caldwell

Idaho Teens To Learn Digital Game Design as Career Path

Idaho Teen GameLab to teach Idaho students the art of digital game design and coding in an interactive camp.

Screen Shot 2014-01-11 at 1.36.26 PMBoise – January 2014 – Idaho students interested in a career in digital gaming and computer programming have the opportunity to participate in the Idaho Teen GameLab (ITGL). ITGL is a six-week, fully online academic camp that provides career exploration in the exciting field of digital game design. ITGL is taught using 3D GameLab, a quest-based learning platform where students level up by playing educational “quests” at their own pace within Gamemaker Studio, Sploder, Unity, Minecraft and adventure maps. Students will collaborate in virtual worlds to plan and build civilizations, create personalized games, test and provide feedback on fellow-developers games. ITGL is co-sponsored by Idaho Digital Learning (IDLA) and GoGo Labs.

“At Idaho Digital Learning, we are always searching for innovative ways to improve learning opportunities for Idaho Students. Idaho Teen Game Lab provides a rich learning experience that promotes creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking which are essential skills in todays work environment. We are really excited about our partnership with GoGo Labs and have enjoyed working with them on this project” said Mike Caldwell, Idaho Digital Learning Director of Program Development

“Ninety-nine percent of teens play video games. GoGo Labs is focused on engaging students and inspiring teachers through gamified learning opportunities, and what could be more interesting than designing the games themselves? We’re excited to be working with IDLA to bring this opportunity to Idaho teens” said Lisa Dawley, GoGo Labs CEO & Founder

In celebration of Digital Learning Day, registration will open on February 5, 2014.

Up to 200 middle and high school students throughout the state of Idaho can participate in the camp beginning in March. ITGL is great for beginning and intermediate game designers. For more information, or go to

Idaho Digital Learning was established as Idaho’s state virtual school by the Idaho Legislature in 2002.  The state virtual school serves 100% of Idaho School districts at over 19,000 enrollments in 2012-2013. Idaho Digital Learning is a nationally recognized program that was ranked 3rd in the U.S. for Online Learning Policy and Practice (Center for Digital Education, 2008) and is the fourth-largest State Virtual School in the United States based on statewide per capita online enrollments (Keeping Pace, 2011)

GoGo Labs, Inc., is a learning technology business based in Boise, Idaho.  Its mission is to empower, inspire and engage teachers and students using quest-based learning, and game-like learning communities. GoGo Labs holds a global exclusive license on 3D GameLab, a patent-pending learning platform that promotes student engagement and feelings of heroic success leveraging game mechanics such as quests, ranks, badges and player cards. Its customers are educators and institutions in over 13 countries that are seeking exciting, new ways to engage their digital-age students.

Winter Game Design Camp…for teachers?!

hero_banner-01I’m really excited about this one…game design camp for teachers, woohoo!! As a lot of states and school districts begin to get involved in coding initiatives (CodeMontana, Hour of Code, etc. etc.), we help coders and builders engage in a very specific type of development — game design!

Did you know 99% of US teens play video games, and over 66% of adults have played a game on their mobile phone in the last week?  Gaming is pervasive and ubiquitous in our society.  As we continue to explore the uses of gamification for learning, we can’t think of anything better than to help teachers and students become designers of their own games, educational or otherwise!

As some of you know, last summer we launched a fully online pilot of Teen GameLab, our game design camp, with appx. 30 teens around the US, and one from S. Africa.  I’m not sure if they had more fun or we did. Seriously, those teens were amazing, what a fantastic and engaging learning experience for all of us.  While advertising that camp, we heard from a lot of teachers who wanted to participate, as well.

So, we’re bringing back our game design curriculum in January and February, and making it available in 3D GameLab Teacher Camps.  In January, we’ll offer three weeks of questing in camps on game design in Minecraft (adventure maps, anyone?), and Sploder.  Lucas Gillispie, proud leader of the Minecraft in Schools project will be taking the lead on the Minecraft camp, and Chris Haskell, co-creator of 3D GameLab, will be covering game design in Sploder.  In February, Mark Suter will be teaching GameMaker Studio, and we’ll be adding a new camp in Unity (wow!) taught by Melissa Wrenchy.

Hope you can join us and share in the amazing games that will be built, played, reviewed, and shared!

What Students Think about 3D GameLab

A couple of screenshots shared with me recently by teachers in 3D GameLab. Thanks for taking the time to pass along the awesome news.  I love everyone’s enthusiasm. 🙂

8th grader
Survey of Mr. Denham’s class

Sometimes the best news  comes directly from the students themselves.  We recently completed Teen GameLab, our three week online game design camp.  I asked one of the campers what he liked best about camp, and what suggestions he had for the future.  I got a huge smile on my face when he said, “Oh, I absolutely loved everything about Teen GameLab, so I don’t have any suggestions.  The one bad thing is that we don’t get to hang out together anymore.”  I’ll have to figure out a way to change that!