The idea of passing on knowledge has intrigued people for generations and for many it is the profession of choice. We often hear the terms “teacher” and “instructor” and that prompts the question, what is an instructor or teacher?
Teacher vs. Instructor
All of us had teachers during our formal education years, elementary, middle school, and high school. Those of us who went onto college learned a great deal of subject matter listening to the professor’s lectures. On the other hand, many have learned through instructors delivering much-needed information on a specific subject such as a computer class, continuing education class, or exercise class. This not an attempt to classify either a teacher or an instructor as one being of greater value than the other but rather to simply define some of the differences for you to understand between the two titles. In many instances, the duties, procedures, or methods of a teacher or instructor may overlap, of course, but for all intents and purposes, they are separate entities providing needed education.
A teacher, for example, works a plan by utilizing lecture, question engagement, a monitoring process, and evaluates, usually through testing, how a student is coming along at gaining knowledge from the course. A teacher is, in many aspects, more involved through the process of educating their students and interacts directly with them as well, sometimes, getting to know their students more personally.
An instructor is a teacher or professor, but of a specialized subject that involves skill. An instructor is, more or less, task-oriented and isn’t as broad-based in approach as a teacher. An instructor’s instruction has a different approach, usually with an emphasis on practical aspects of a subject and rarely is evolved with the theoretical aspects of the subject. Instructors are more geared towards a “how to” approach.
Most instructors have actual “real world” experience in the subject they choose to instruct. For example, most athletic coaches instruct their players and were players themselves at some point. In the business world, many business owners become mentors, wishing to pass along their gained knowledge and insights to up and coming individuals, interested in learning about their respective fields. This is an important difference between teacher and instructor.
Most online courses are taught using the instructor approach delivering the material through a lecture with onscreen graphics or videos. A course is comprised of several modules or sections, often referred to as a class, and each might run an hour or so. The information being provided by the classes is more direct and to the point and many times set up in a step by step approach. Because of this “delivery system,” the instructor label is more often used to describe the online proctor.
So, as you can see the role of teacher or instructor can overlap, as I said earlier, but there is a distinct difference between the two. If you are considering becoming an individual that provides a learning experience which one would you become, an instructor or a teacher? Something to think about, but either way, everyone needs learning and when they do, turning to someone for help means they going to need a teacher or instructor.
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