About Instructor – Dr. Reid

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The instructor bio is such a simple, basic part of the course that it can be easy to overlook its importance. When so much time is taken up with assignment rubrics, video scripts, and discussion prompts, thinking of how to describe yourself to students can seem pretty minor.

But it is worth thinking about. The instructor bio is often the first introduction that students will have to you–as an educator, as a subject matter expert, and as a person. So it’s key to make a good first impression with an instructor bio that students will want to read.

Quality Matters requires an instructor bio, as part of their standards for quality online course design. They say:

[The bio] presents the instructor as professional as well as approachable, and includes the essentials, such as the instructor’s name, title, field of expertise, email address, phone number, and times when the instructor is typically online or may be reached by phone.

Expectations of the relationship and communication style between teacher and learner are culturally influenced. Including information about the role of the instructor and how to address the instructor is helpful to learners from all backgrounds.

The self-introduction helps learners get to know the instructor and, in addition to the essentials mentioned above, could include comments on teaching philosophy, a summary of past experience with teaching online courses, personal information such as hobbies, family, travel experiences, etc., and a photograph, audio message, or video (including alternative formats to ensure accessibility).

These recommendations all focus on a crucial element: knowing your audience. The instructor bio is written for your students–not academic peers, not a hiring committee, not the dust jacket of a book. Don’t just copy from a cover letter or CV; the tone you’d take when writing to potential employers is very different than the tone you want to take with students. Students will appreciate an overview of your work and academic history, so they can look for commonalities and things to aspire to. They don’t need the title of every article you’ve published in the last decade, or detailed descriptions of every project you’ve led at your last three jobs.


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