A Conversation With My Amazing Wife About Online Teacher YOUniversity

Liz O’Neill

Dr. Frank O’Neill

Who are you in case someone that you are not married to is reading this?

Around you and the kids I go by Dad, but everyone else calls me Dr. Frank O’Neill, or Dr. O.

Why did you start Online Teacher YOUniversity?

Online education is a polarizing topic for many faculty and administrators.  But I truly believe that online and blended courses will become the new educational gold standard.  I’m here to stand up for amazing online teachers that are dragging education into the 21st-century kicking and screaming.

I started Online Teacher YOUniversity because I got tired of people telling me what I can’t do with my online courses.  I want to use this blog to:

  • Dispel myths about online teaching and learning
  • Share proven online student engagement techniques
  • Teach teachers how to incorporate video into their online courses
  • Help new online teachers design epic courses

When did you plan on telling me that you were going to start Online Teacher YOUniversity? 

Oops…  I could have sworn that we talked about this :).

I know that I am super busy.  I know that nobody has more reasons not to start a blog than I do.  I could use my family as a reason not to do this.  I could use my busy teaching load as a reason not to do this.  I could use my long commute as a reason not to do this.  But, I’m doing it anyway.

I decided to start this blog because I want to serve the teachers that teach the world.  I also want to be a role model for my children.  I want them to grow up seeing a dad that loves what he does and goes out of his way to share his passion with the world.

Why should anyone listen to you?

Good question.  I definitely don’t have all the answers.  I don’t even know all the questions yet.  The only thing I know for sure is that I am a much better online teacher than I was 5 years ago, and I continue to find ways to improve as a teacher each and every semester.  I have learned an unbelievable amount from mentors, colleagues, training programs, and good old-fashioned trial and error.  But most of my growth as an online teacher has come from talking to my students and really listening to what they have to teach me.  If students tell me something works, I do more of it.  If they tell me it doesn’t work, I try something else.  It’s as simple as that.

I am just a few steps ahead of you on this journey.  I didn’t even believe in online education when I first started teaching online courses.  Now I feel like an online course evangelist.  I just want to help you along the same path that I have been on and point out the stumbling blocks that caused me the most grief.  Why learn from your own mistakes when you can save yourself the trouble and learn from mine instead?

Who are you here to help?

I am building Online Teacher YOUniversity for teachers that care enough about their students and want to give them the education that they deserve.  This site is for you if you are looking for tips, tactics, and technology that will allow you to reach the next generation of online learners.  I want to work with you if:

  • You are always looking for better ways to inspire, empower, and engage your students
  • You think of teaching as an art and a science
  • You want your life, and your life’s work, to matter
  • You want to find the perfect balance between your work and your family life
  • You understand that learning from a mentor can shave 5 years off of your online teaching and learning curve

Who do you NOT want to help?

The myth that online courses are easy money has led to a lot of problems in online education.  I have no interest in working with people that only see online courses as a path to an easy paycheck.  I am not ashamed of the fact that I make an excellent living teaching online courses.  We all have families to feed.  As much as I love my work, I would stop showing up if they stopped paying me.  But, making money has never been my primary motivation.

Why do you care?

To put it bluntly, I am not writing this blog for you.  I am writing it for your students.  My simple teaching philosophy it that every student matters; not just my own.

Online education is not reaching its potential, and I want to help build up a generation of educated and motivated online teachers to fix it.  I want to help the online teachers that will teach my kids and grandkid someday.


You have been talking about blogging for years.  Why did you choose this topic to finally start a blog?

I have toyed with the idea of a blog for quite a while, but I was waiting for a topic to surface.  I wanted to make sure I could find an issue that I need to write about rather than want to write about.  Over the past few months, the choice has become obvious.  I have to write about online teaching.  The things that get my heart rate going in my professional life are 1) People telling what I can’t do in an online class (can’t engage the students, can’t develop relationships with students, can’t make meaningful labs, etc), and 2) crappy online courses that don’t do anything from list 1.

Once I had that a-ha moment I realized that I have already been writing on this topic.  I have just been doing it via email to one person at a time.  I hope that making my thoughts public will help a handful of committed online teachers to feel the pure joy that comes with truly connecting with their online students.

Are you going to bore your readers like you do me?

Ouch, Lizzy!!!  Let’s try to keep this on subject :).

First off, the readers haven’t known me since I was 15.  They haven’t heard all of my corny Dad jokes yet :).

Second, this blog will be light on theory and heavy on proven practices that get results.  I hope that everyone that comes to Online Teacher YOUniversity will take away something that they can use right away to inspire, empower, or engage students.

How do you want an online teacher to use Online Teacher YOUniversity? 

I want you to run all of my advice through your own filter.  Reflect on how you are going to use the information in this blog.  How can you use (or modify) what I am doing to make your courses better?  Then, do something with this information.  Well done is always better than well said.  

What are your long-term plans for Online Teacher YOUniversity?

I want you to come for the content but stay for the community.  I hope that Online Teacher YOUniversity will be a place where educational professionals can share their experience with new online teachers and course designers.  I want this to be a lot more than just another blog.

Anything else you want to add before you unload the dishwasher?

WE are way smarter than me.  I want to get to know you.  I want to see where you are struggling.  I want to hear from you so I can share good answers to your great questions.

Thanks for making me a part of your week and a part of your team.

Crush it!

Dr. O

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