Education Week: Ed. Schools Lag Behind in Virtual-Teacher Training


Education Week: Ed. Schools Lag Behind in Virtual-Teacher Training.

Virtual Education Experts Say Graduate Programs to Train Online Teachers Make the Most Sense, at Least for Now

Article ToolsAs the youngest faculty member in the school of education technology at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Leanna Archambault was quickly tapped as the most “qualified” to teach one of its first online courses.

Not that she was.

“I was like, ‘How do I do this?'” recalled Ms. Archambault, a nontenured instructor at the university at the time. “It was really like building the plane while I was flying it.”

As she soon found out, teaching online courses presented very different challenges from merely integrating technology into the classroom. And after earning a doctorate from UNLV, Ms. Archambault in 2008 headed to Arizona State University in Tempe to create a curriculum to help K-12 teachers learn how to teach online. But while she had intended to focus on preservice teachers, she found certification and course-hour requirements too encumbering, and instead created a graduate certification program that began this fall, a choice that was the obvious one in retrospect.

“With undergraduates, they just made the decision to be a teacher, and many of them are not even aware that online teaching is a possibility,” Ms. Archambault said. “There needs to be some kind of will on the part of the teacher, because it’s a huge commitment. And it’s vastly different from the traditional classroom.”

While experts on virtual education largely agree that preservice teacher education needs to catch up to the times, they also often concede that graduate programs make more sense, at least for now.

Schools like Iowa State University, in Ames, offer coursework to prepare preservice teachers for virtual teaching, and others like the University of South Florida, in Tampa, and the University of Central Florida, in Orlando, offer virtual-teaching internships. But they are largely the exceptions.

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