BE VOCAL: Characteristics of Successful Online Instructors

John R. Savery
The University of Akron


While classroom teaching and management strategies are well documented, the online learning environment presents different challenges and benefits. Teaching in an online environment requires a special set of teaching skills since many of the strategies and tactics associated with best teaching practices are somewhat constrained by the primarily text-based environment. The VOCAL approach summarizes the key characteristics that a master instructor utilizes to be effective in an online environment. VOCAL is an acronym for Visible, Organized, Compassionate, Analytical and Leader-by-example. The ability of the teacher to effectively infuse these characteristics into their instructional practice – to BE VOCAL - will promote a supportive, challenging, constructive, rigorous and effective instructional environment. Instructors who practice a VOCAL approach will have more productive learning environments, fewer management problems and more positive learning experiences with their students.

EDITORS NOTE: As a part of this Editor’s Choice special issue of JIOL, this article is a reprint of an article published in volume 4, Issue 2 of the Journal of Interactive Online Learning. The author biographical information has been updated below, however, the manuscript is presented in its original form.

About the Author(s)...

John R. Savery completed a Ph.D. in Instructional Systems Technology in 1996 at Indiana University (Bloomington). Four years at DePaul University providing faculty professional development and teaching multiple undergraduate and graduate courses led to a faculty position in the College of Education at The University of Akron. John is currently the Director of the Department of Instructional Services within the Information Technology Services division at the University of Akron. Dr. Savery can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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