In this era of student-centered, collaborative, constructivist learning, augmented by social networks and other virtual environments featuring learner autonomy, self-direction and independence, the role of instructors in online education is undergoing continuous evolution since the advent of the Internet, and the proliferation of Learning Management Systems (LSM) to support teaching and learning. This chapter examines the role of the online instructor, and indeed, poses the provocative question:  does there remain a useful and meaningful role for what is arguably the increasingly ‘invisible’ instructor in many online settings. Factors that contribute to this phenomenon, such as the proliferation of new technology, the emphasis on self-directed learning, a changing student clientele, emerging modes of assessment, etc. are noted. Findings from a various studies of student attitudes, behaviors, and perceptions of what is critical for success in online courses are highlighted, including data suggesting that the role of instructors and the features of Learning Management Systems are relatively minor factors for achieving success in online learning.  The implications of these trends for the future role of the professoriate are also considered.      

Beaudoin, M. (2013). The Evolving Role of the Instructor in the Digital Age. In Katz, Y. (ed.), Learning Management Systems and Instructional Design: Metrics, Standards, and Applications. Charlotte, NC: Information Science Publishing.