Online instructors have the opportunity to model character as well as content to their students.
Several years ago, a preacher from out-of-state accepted a call to a church in Houston, Texas . Some weeks after he arrived, he had an occasion to ride the bus from his home to the downtown area. When he sat down, he discovered that the driver had accidentally given him a quarter too much change. As he considered what to do, he thought to himself, 'You'd better give the quarter back. It would be wrong to keep it.' Then he thought, 'Oh, forget it, it's only a quarter. Who would worry about this little amount? Anyway, the bus company gets too much fare; they will never miss it. Accept it as a 'gift from God' and keep quiet.' When his stop came, he paused momentarily at the door, and then he handed the quarter to the driver and said, 'Here, you gave me too much change. The driver, with a smile, replied, 'Aren't you the new preacher in town?' 'Yes' he replied.
'Well, I have been thinking a lot lately about going somewhere to worship. I just wanted to see what you would do if I gave you too much change. I'll see you at church on Sunday.' When the preacher stepped off of the bus, he literally grabbed the nearest light pole, held on, and said, 'Oh God, I almost sold your Son for a quarter.' Our lives are the only Bible some people will ever read. This is a really scary example of how much people watch us as Christians, and will put us to the test! Always be on guard -- and remember -- You carry the name of Christ on your shoulders when you call yourself 'Christian.'
Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny. I share this story to tug on your heart strings. Online teaching, while often seen as less glamorous than the traditional face to face modality, offers endless opportunities to showcase positive virtue and share the love of Christ with others. While distance separates us from our students, we are still "on stage." Even our mundane, small, seemingly unimportant actions in the classroom can inspire our students to tale the moral and ethical higher road by doing things the right way, rather than succumbing to the temptations of plagiarism, mediocrity, and procrastination. Beyond the mundane though, we can also make an intentional effort to establish "presence" with the student. Although we may not be "in front" of the students like a traditional classroom, we are on display. Our students are watching. So would you give the quarter back to the bus driver?