Institutions worldwide are making the transition from offline to online education. As more and more educational institutions offer online programmes, teachers need to adopt this new way of teaching. This is especially true for synchronous online teaching, a form of online teaching in which teacher and students interact with each other simultaneously. This type of online teaching is characteristic of d-teach. Synchronous online education is becoming increasingly popular, partly because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the great potential of synchronous online education stands in sharp contrast to the little existing research on this topic. Nevertheless, several studies show that this way of teaching clearly requires other competences from the teacher. That is why we at d-teach took the initiative to specialise further in this form of online education.

Maaike Grammens, advisor professionalization at d-teach, is doing research via a Baekeland mandate into how you can teach synchronously online in a qualitative way. The aim is to further support teachers in their professional development. This research is part of a doctoral program that was set up in cooperation with the Department of Educational Studies at Ghent University, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Bram De Wever, and also supported by VLAIO, the Flemish Agency for Innovation and Enterprise.

Based on a literature study, we made an inventory of the competencies and overarching roles that teachers need to have in order to teach qualitatively in a synchronous online learning environment. We can summarise the competencies in 7 roles for the teacher: the pedagogical role, the role of instructional designer, the social role, the role of manager, the technical role, the communicative role and the cultural role (see figure). This competency framework is the start of further studies that once again aim to provide the synchronous online teacher with further evidence-based support in his professional development.

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