FAQ – Teaching Courses (Virtually)


Here is some information for BU 2022!

Q: How do I sign up to teach?

A: Watch this site or sign up for e-news. We will start accepting course proposals in January 2022. We’ll have a short form for you to fill out with your course idea and some basic information. Our organizing team will review proposals and get back to everyone very quickly. There are some important changes and requirements, and you’ll need to be sure your course material will work in a virtual format. Don’t forget that you can also run a meet-up group or lead a discussion.

Q: Who can teach a course?

A: Anyone with a skill to share, the time to teach, and a connection to Bethel. You do not need to be a Bethel resident – if you work in Bethel, own a business in Bethel, have a second cousin from Bethel, or just love Bethel University, we invite you to teach. You do not need a college degree or years of experience. Teens and kids are welcome to teach courses as well as adults, and we can help find mentors to help kids develop strong courses. In 2022, we are particularly looking for professors who have some experience leading virtual sessions. We will offer limited coaching and assistance!

Q: What types of courses or activities can I propose?

A: This year we’re offering three types of sessions: courses, meet-ups, and discussions. Courses can range from hands-on demonstrations to lectures to interactive sessions. Meet-ups are a chance to meet up with people who share an interest, but you don’t need to have any expertise or plan a class. Discussions are informal (but facilitated) small group conversations on any topic you like.  

Q: What do I need to teach online?

A: There are a few critical ingredients to be able to successfully teach online. We’ll help you out with the skills and setup, but check out this list to be sure it will work for you. If you don’t have a setup or Internet connection at home that will work, we are hoping to offer a safe location in town where professors can connect to teach.

  • A computer, laptop or mobile device 
  • A strong Internet connection (broadband or cable is best)
  • A microphone or camera
  • A topic that will work in a virtual setting. There’s a lot you can do virtually, from demonstrations to discussions to slideshows and video. Most typical topics can be adapted into a good virtual class, but it may take some work and rethinking.

Q: What topics are most popular?

A: There’s quite a range. Certain topics tend to be very popular… craft courses, exercise or sports,  cooking and other creative topics always fill up fast. You may get fewer students for a specialized topic, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth offering. Many organizations are also using BU now as a way to educate community members, recruit volunteers or advance their missions. You can set a minimum and maximum number of students. In 2021, people have particularly expressed interest in lectures or talks, cooking and food classes, home improvement and gardening, activities and crafts.

Q: When can I schedule a course? How long should it be?

A: All courses will be held within the month of March, and 2022 classes will be limited to one session each. (We encourage you to organize more sessions on your own, if you like.) We will be limiting course times to weekday evenings and weekends, which are the most popular times. Attention spans are shorter online, so we suggest making your courses 45-90 minutes long depending on your topic and structure. We can help you determine the best length.

Q: What can I teach? Can I teach more than one course?

A: Instructors can teach whatever they know and are passionate about. If you’re a small business, think about teaching a course that showcases your business offerings – but make sure to offer lots of content and not just a long infomercial. If you have a hobby or a profession and want to share your expertise, teach a course on those skills. Even if you just have average skills in using your computer or mobile phone, or planting a garden, chances are someone would like to learn about it. We also now offer a “meet-up” option – you can host an informal gathering on a topic even if you don’t feel you can teach a class on it.

If you need ideas, check out our past course listings to see what’s been offered. We will be limiting the number of courses this year, so strongly suggest that you propose no more than two.

Q: How much does this gig pay?

A: If you’re in this for the money, look elsewhere. If you offer to teach a course, you’ll be volunteering your time. If you have a business, this is a great way to introduce more people to your services or get people to your shop, or even to try out an online course offering.  We do not allow instructors to charge students for courses.

Q: Do you accept all course proposals? When will we hear from you?

A: We accept as many proposals as we can, but the number of courses will be significantly lower in 2022 due to volunteer capacity. We may need to turn down some proposals. We also reserve the right to turn down proposals on topics that are illegal or otherwise radically offensive or inappropriate or that we don’t feel will work in the Bethel University format. We will be review proposals shortly after the deadline and get back to you.

Q: I’ve never taught a course before. Can you help?

A:  Yes! We have a number of ways to help. We will be offering teacher training workshops in late February to assist with both developing a good course plan. You can also read our Tips for Teachers and download a short professor’s manual. Our planning team has several people with experience in virtual teaching and we’re happy to answer questions or offer guidance in putting together great courses. If you want to teach, please submit an idea and we’ll help you as much as we can!