Calling all biologists or science teachers… are you passionate and eager to share your expertise with the world? Whether you’re a seasoned educator or a biology enthusiast looking to make a difference, this comprehensive guide will equip you with the essential strategies and tools you need to teach biology online effectively.
In this comprehensive blog, we’ll delve into all of the key steps you need to excel in the realm of online biology instruction, from setting up your virtual classroom to engaging your students in the most productive ways.
Skip ahead here:
- Why teach biology online?
- Qualifications needed to teach biology online
- Can you earn a living teaching biology online?
- 10 steps to creating your online biology learning experience
- Final thoughts
If you’ve ever thought about entering into the world of online teaching, now is the best time to expand your horizons and take the leap!
This is because the demand for online teachers is accelerating and showing no signs of slowing down… according to Statista Market Insights, revenue in the online education market is projected to reach a staggering $185 billion 2024 with an annual growth rate of 9.48% and a projected market volume of $239 billion by 2027.
If you aren’t already convinced by the fact that online education has some serious earning potential, we’ve highlighted some other key factors that show the benefits of teaching biology online.
While teaching in-person has its perks, it also has some downfalls such as being restricted by the location and the limited number of students that can attend your classes. Teaching biology online transcends geographical boundaries and capped class sizes, enabling educators to connect with students from all over the world.
This means that students in different countries and time zones – including those from remote or underserved areas – can access quality biology education that they might not have had access to otherwise. It breaks down the limitations of physical location and opens up educational opportunities on a global scale. When venturing into the online education world, you’re not only setting yourself up for success, you’re also creating a positive impact on learners all over the globe.
Online learning also benefits students with diverse learning needs or students with disabilities. This format allows students to go at their own pace, and learn from the comfort of their own home or a familiar space.
When creating lesson plans, consider providing supplementary materials, video explanations, or interactive quizzes that can help learners grasp complex biological concepts, making education more inclusive for a wide range of students.
Flexibility and convenience
Online teaching offers an exceptional level of flexibility that allows you to tailor your work schedule to your unique preferences and lifestyle. Whether you’re seeking a full-time career, part-time employment, or a supplementary source of income, online teaching can seamlessly accommodate your needs.
This adaptability is particularly beneficial for individuals who appreciate non-traditional work arrangements, such as:
- Varied schedules: Online teaching allows you to create a schedule that aligns with your daily rhythm and personal commitments. Unlike traditional teaching roles, you have the freedom to teach during hours that suit you best, whether it’s early in the morning, late at night, or somewhere in between. If you offer asynchronous lectures, this frees up even more of your time, allowing you to keep a flexible schedule.
- Travel enthusiasts: If you have a passion for exploring new destinations or desire the flexibility to work from anywhere, online teaching provides the ideal opportunity. You can embark on your travel adventures while continuing to teach your students from diverse corners of the world.
- Balancing multiple responsibilities: Online teaching caters to individuals who juggle various responsibilities, such as caring for a family, pursuing higher education, or maintaining another job. The ability to set your own teaching hours ensures you can efficiently manage your time and commitments.
- Supplementing your income: Whether you’re saving for a specific goal or simply looking to boost your monthly earnings, teaching online can serve as a valuable side gig. You can take on as many or as few teaching hours as you desire, providing a flexible means to increase your income.
- Exploring other interests: Online teaching allows you to explore and pursue other interests or hobbies while maintaining a fulfilling teaching career. You can allocate time to develop additional skills, engage in creative endeavors, or embark on entrepreneurial ventures.
- Career transitions: For those considering a career change or transitioning into education, online teaching offers an accessible entry point. You can begin teaching online while acquiring the necessary qualifications and experience to advance in the field. This provides a flexible way to get your foot in the door for teaching biology.
Entrepreneurial opportunities and passive income
Teaching biology online can be a stepping stone to entrepreneurship. Essentially, you are becoming your very own boss by compiling knowledge that’s already at your fingertips!
If you are already a seasoned biology instructor, venturing to online instruction will be easier than you imagine. Since you will already have all the materials you need ready to go when you start putting together your online course, you can spend more time and energy on the business side of starting an online course, such as marketing tactics.
You can develop your own courses, create educational content, and even build your brand in the online education space. An excellent way to expand from online teaching is to create and sell digital products or memberships to start earning a passive income.
Digital products such as ebooks, downloadable workbooks or PDFs, or templates are a great way to collect email addresses for future promotion, as well as make some extra income. Memberships provide you with recurring revenue streams rather than relying on singular course sales.
As your own boss, you can also choose the structure of your online classes. Decide if you want your online classes to be live or pre-recorded. This also depends on your schedule and other previous commitments. Think about how synchronous versus asynchronous fit into your teaching style. Do you want your course to be more interactive or engaging, or flexible and self-paced?
The format of your course and your offerings will affect your ability to earn passive income – time is money, after all!
To teach biology online, you’ll need a few basic things to start. First, it’s important to have a strong understanding of biology and a general science background. Ideally, you should have a degree in biology or a related field, such as education. Most biology teachers have either a Bachelor of Education (B. Ed.) in Biology or a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) undergraduate degree. An advanced degree (e.g., a master’s or Ph.D.) can be beneficial, especially if you plan to teach more advanced or specialized biology topics.
If you don’t have any formal degrees or higher education, don’t let this deter you… you could also be an excellent biology student who is an effective communicator. Sharing your expertise and offering a tutoring class or crash course can also prove to be very successful. That’s the beauty of teaching online – you can do anything if you are passionate and set your mind to it!
In addition to having some knowledge of biology and science, you’ll also need to be confident and comfortable with technology. Some online biology teachers simply use YouTube to share their skills – but even that requires video editing and uploading. In order to make money more easily, a learning management system (LMS) will be your best bet. While LMS’s make it simple to upload and order your content, you’ll still need to be able to edit and create your online content.
Lastly, depending on your location and the platform you choose (more on how to choose the best platform below), if you don’t have any formal education, having teaching credentials or a certification may be required or preferred. In some cases, if you decide to teach for an established online school, their platform may require you to pass a background check or provide proof of your qualifications.
To get certified as a biology teacher, check online university courses out in your area for more options. We have also created a list of some online courses from institutions that you can easily enroll in (that don’t require any previous education) to receive a certification for teaching biology online below:
- NC State University: Biology for Educators
- IAP Career College: Biology Certificate Course Online
- Study.com: Biology for Teachers: Professional Development
- American Board: Become a Biology Teacher
Whether you are overqualified or just beginning your teaching journey, there’s a ton of space in the online teaching world for anyone who is passionate about what they love and who wants to share their knowledge with future learners.
You can absolutely earn a liveable income from teaching biology online! Investing time and energy into the quality of your online course will only keep raising the ceiling for how much you can earn from teaching biology online.
For example, look at Khan Academy, which started as one man tutoring his cousin in science and has developed into a more than 150-person organization with a mission to provide a free world-class education for anyone, anywhere. They are proof that teaching online has no limits.
To successfully earn a living from teaching biology online, we’ve created a list of some ways you can set yourself apart from your competition and become the best online biology teacher on the internet:
Choose a niche
Finding your niche – also known as the thing that differentiates you against your competitors – allows you to specialize within your topic and help you build a brand to prove that you’re the best at what you do.
Choose a niche by determining the specific biology topics and grade levels you want to teach. You could focus on general biology, molecular biology, ecology, genetics, or even advanced topics like microbiology or bioinformatics. You can teach any biology topic that there is a demand and interest for.
Remember to be yourself, and incorporate your unique personality into your online classes. This will set you apart from the other online biology teachers, and keep your students engaged and coming back for more.
Pro tip: Scope out your competitors and see what works for them, and what you could try differently to make your course stand out against the competition.
Design your online biology course
Once you have chosen your speciality, it’s time to create a lesson plan and map out your course structure. How long is your course going to be? Are you going to offer shorter, bite-sized content chucks or more in-depth lectures?
Preparation for this step will vary depending on the amount of experience you have as a biology teacher, or the prior knowledge or material you have already acquired.
Check out our guide: What Is Microlearning? The Case For Shorter, Bite Sized Learning.
Select the right online platform
One of the most important steps to beginning teaching biology online is selecting the right online platform for you. Decide whether you want to work through an existing online education platform, use your own website, or work with a combination of both.
While working for an existing online education platform will be more hassle-free, oftentimes this route won’t allow you the freedom to have full-range over designing all the components of your course materials.
If you want to steadily grow your business teaching biology online, we suggest choosing a platform that can accommodate your needs both now and in the future – this includes things from student communication, hosting synchronous classes, or uploading asynchronous courses. The platform you choose will be the home base for all your operations.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when searching for an online platform:
- Creation: search for easy-to-use course creation tools, such as drag-and-drop editors and course templates.
- Tracking: look for features to track student management: enrollment, learning progress, administrative tasks, etc.
- Payment: choose a platform that offers a selection of payment gateways such as integrations like Stripe and PayPal.
- Security: make sure your platform has features to protect your content.
- Community: look at options to add discussion boards, group chats, and community forums, etc.
- Multimedia: ensure content can be delivered using various formats like text, video, and imagery.
- Evaluation: search for a platform that allows the ability to track student progress through assignments and quizzes and give out certifications.
- Analytics: make sure report measures and insights for course engagement are included.
- Marketing: search for add-on tools that help promote your course.
- Customer support: ensure options for assistance for tech issues.
Thinkific for course creation
Thinkific offers an all-in-one scalable solution for course creation, community-building, and membership monetization, and is one of the most well-rounded course creation platforms on the market for online teaching.
Use Thinkific to build your biology course by starting out with a free plan to create a beautiful website, engage your students with communities, and sell your course the way you want, from subscriptions to one-time payments. With a simple drag-and-drop course builder, you can have your first biology course up and running in less than a day. Thinkific also offers around-the-clock customer support and is there to help you every step of the way.
If you are looking for some extra features, you can get access to a whole range of third-party app integrations in the Thinkific App Store. These help you level up your course business and start earning more money.
Pricing your course
To determine your rates for your online biology course and coaching sessions (if you choose to do coaching sessions), consider factors such as your qualifications, the level of biology you’re teaching, and the demand for your services.
For a good starting point, check out your competitors: look at their levels of experience, what they offer, and how much they’re charging. This will give you a good ball-park estimate of what to charge for your services.
Successful Thinkific creator George Pitts uses the following strategy when pricing his courses:
“I don’t believe in becoming the cheapest, because that’s not valuable. I don’t believe in becoming the most expensive either. I believe in being somewhere in the middle; as long as you have value there, people are willing to invest into that.”
If you need more advice on pricing your course check out our guide on pricing: How to Price Your Online Course (Complete Guide to Course Pricing).
Market your course
To get students filling up the virtual seats in your online classroom, you will most likely need to invest some time and energy into promoting your online biology course.
Here are some top ways to easily promote your online biology course:
- Social media marketing: Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, etc.
- Email marketing: offer gated content like ebooks, how-to guides, or webinars
- Content marketing: blog posts, how-to guides, and downloadable templates
- SEO: search engine optimization tactics like keyword research
Pro tip: Look for communities that have audiences who may be interested in your course. For example, science tutoring communities or biology enthusiast groups.
It’s a good idea to look at how other online learning entrepreneurs market themselves and use their strategies as inspiration. No need to reinvent the wheel!
For more information and ideas on how to market your business check out our guide: Social Media Marketing Guide: Uncracking the Code.
Follow the steps below to ensure a smooth transition into the online teaching world, and to level-up your online biology course.
Creating a welcoming online learning environment sets the tone for your virtual classroom. You’ll want to choose a reliable online teaching platform that aligns with your teaching style and offers interactive features.
Also consider that amount of student support you are offering. For example, will you hold “office” hours or be readily available to your students? These are things to consider when setting up your virtual classroom.
Teaching online has its perks: you don’t have to commute or rent any space for your class. However, there are still some key things you need to ensure seamless communication with your students. It is highly recommended to invest in high-quality equipment. A good microphone and webcam are vital for clear audio and video. Equally important is a stable and high-speed internet connection to prevent disruptions during online lessons.
Create a dedicated and well-lit teaching space in your home, keeping it clutter-free and professional-looking. This setup enhances your students’ focus on the content you’re delivering.
You will also want to organize your teaching materials in an accessible online format. Think about what kind of digital resources you will offer, including worksheets or quizzes. It can be helpful to keep a course ‘homepage’ with a file structure containing clear names and folders to simplify navigation for both you and your students.
To maintain a level of professionalism, you’ll want to establish a consistent schedule for online classes and communicate it clearly to your students. Sticking to this routine provides structure and predictability, encouraging punctuality and active participation. If your course is asynchronous, let your students know ahead of time when they will be granted access to materials.
Recognize potential challenges that students may encounter in an online learning environment. Offer guidance on technical issues, provide alternative resources for those with limited technology access, and ensure your materials are accessible to all students, including those with disabilities.
Implement regular assessments, quizzes, and assignments to gauge your students’ understanding of biological concepts. Provide timely and constructive feedback to support their improvement. Utilize online assessment tools and grading platforms for efficiency.
As we mentioned earlier, you will want to create a well-structured biology curriculum. Planning out your curriculum ahead of time is essential for online teaching success.
- Define your objectives and teaching goals
- Divide biology concepts into manageable chunks
- Create engaging and interactive content
- Promote active learning and participation
Example of course outline for teaching biology
Course Title: General Biology
Module 1: Introduction to Biology (Week 1-2)
– Lesson 1: What Is Biology?
– Lesson 2: The Scientific Method
– Lesson 3: Cell Structure and Function
– Assessment: Module 1 Quiz
Module 2: Genetics and Heredity (Week 3-4)
– Lesson 4: Mendelian Genetics
– Lesson 5: DNA Structure and Replication
– Lesson 6: Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology
– Assessment: Module 2 Quiz
Module 3: Ecology and Environmental Science (Week 5-6)
– Lesson 7: Ecosystems and Biodiversity
– Lesson 8: Human Impact on the Environment
– Assessment: Module 3 Quiz
Module 4: Evolutionary Biology (Week 7-8)
– Lesson 9: The Theory of Evolution
– Lesson 10: Evidence for Evolution
– Lesson 11: Speciation and Adaptation
– Assessment: Module 4 Quiz
Module 5: Applied Biology (Week 9-10)
– Lesson 12: Biology in Medicine
– Lesson 13: Biotechnology Applications
– Lesson 14: Ethical Considerations in Biology
– Assessment: Module 5 Quiz
Module 6: Final Project and Review (Week 11-12)
– Lesson 15: Capstone Project
– Lesson 16: Course Review and Test Preparation
– Final Course Assessment
Engagement is like the key ingredient to effective online teaching. Consider these methods for teaching biology online:
- Interactive sessions: host live classes with interactive whiteboards and encourage students to ask questions and participate actively.
- Create a community: create online discussion forums, chat groups, or communities where students can collaborate, share their thoughts, and ask for help.
- Use visual aids: use visual aids, such as diagrams, graphs, and videos to explain biological concepts more effectively.
Regular assessment and feedback are essential for student progress, and also to know what you are doing as a teacher. Consider these elements:
- Assignments and quizzes: administer regular assignments and quizzes to assess your students’ understanding of biological concepts.
- Timely feedback: provide prompt and constructive feedback on assignments and assessments to help students improve.
- One-on-one support: offer virtual office hours or individual sessions for students who need additional help.
Online teaching is an evolving process! Continuously monitor and improve your methods by following these tips:
- Gather feedback: ask your students for feedback through course surveys on your teaching style and course materials, and make necessary adjustments.
- Professional development: stay updated with the latest teaching tools and methodologies by participating in online courses or workshops.
- Stay patient and flexible: understand that students may have different learning paces and adapt your teaching approach accordingly.
Since you will be teaching online, effective communication is crucial in the virtual learning environment. Always keep these tools in your back pocket:
- Clear communication: ensure your instructions, explanations, and expectations are communicated clearly to avoid any misunderstandings.
- Regular updates: keep your students informed about course schedules, assignments, and any changes that may arise.
- Encourage questions: create an open and supportive atmosphere where students feel comfortable asking questions and seeking clarification.
There are many technological tools you can utilize to keep your students actively participating and excited to learn about biology. These include:
- Interactive tools: explore biology-specific interactive tools and software that can bring abstract concepts to life.
- Online assessments: utilize online assessment tools to help gauge how well your teaching methods are translating to your students’ learning.
- Recorded sessions: if you choose to offer live sessions, consider recording these lectures so that students can review them later or catch up on missed classes.
Having a community goes a long way in creating customer loyalty and getting referrals for your course. Building a sense of community among your online biology learners can enhance their motivation and engagement. Here are some key ways to implement this:
- Icebreaker activities: start your courses with icebreaker activities to help students get to know each other and build connections.
- Group projects: incorporate collaborative group projects that encourage students to work together, even in a virtual environment.
- Virtual events: organize occasional virtual events, such as biology debates or guest speaker sessions, to keep students engaged and excited about learning biology.
Learning how to teach biology online opens the door to many different entrepreneurial opportunities – and it allows you to create a positive impact on future learners.
Teaching online is full of benefits: whether you’re looking for a supplementary income or flexibility over your schedule, teaching biology online is a rewarding job that gives you autonomy over your teaching career.
With Thinkific, you’ll be able to develop online courses that cater to your students’ needs. Whether that includes cohorts, one-on-one sessions, synchronous or asynchronous learning, or an on-the-go experience with Thinkific Mobile.
Ready to get started? Sign up now to create and launch your first online course for free, without any transaction fees. Unlock the potential of online biology education!