Monday, July 02, 2012

Is Online Teacher Training Good for Public Education?

This from TIME:

Online teacher training involves much of the workload that traditional in-the-class instruction does: textbook lessons, classroom observations, student teaching. But the challenges of training successful teachers online were made clear to me during a recent online chat, when the professor in my "Foundations of Education" course slapped on heavy-duty headphones, peered into her computer screen and asked students what they liked or disliked about her internet course at National University.

We were supposed to speak up but no one could figure out how to use the microphones. After a flurry of typed responses and awkward silences, Professor Lorraine Leavitt, who has taught online courses at San Diego-based National for seven years, filled the dead air time with a discussion of how hard it can be to produce great teachers from an online course.

At least, I think she did. As she spoke, the echo in the chat system became so loud that I missed most of her speech.

"It's kind of like the Wild West," Leavitt, who worked in California's public schools for 32 years and has taught in-person teacher training courses, said in an interview after the course ended. "We're at the beginning of online instruction."

At a time when brick-and-mortar teacher training programs are under fire, the burgeoning world of online teacher training has the potential to help or hamper efforts to improve public education. Internet classes could widen access to the profession and be a solution to teacher shortages. But if online training programs can't ensure quality, they'll instead just pump thousands of ill-prepared teachers into the system...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bottom line about online is pure marketing and convenience. The classes often involve more work which I seriously doubt a professor could adequately review in light of the push by universities to produce higher enrollment numbers in online classes than traditional classrooms. I have taken a few and found them to be frustrating and lack depth due to the very limited contact with the professor or your classmates.

I understand there are some cases extreme locations make this the sole avenue but when you have folks signing up for classes so they don't have to drive onto campus and instead can sit in their living room, one must at least consider the commitment of the individual to true engagement in the profession. I mean, would you want your surgeon, financier, pilot or chef learning their craft on line our would you want them training directly with others who can begin to emerce them in the cultural, social and intellectual aspects of the professon and course material, not just jump a credit hoop. I must say that I learned as much about being an educator from my formal and informal face-to-face interactions with professor, colleagues and classmates as I ever did from the prescribed curriculum parameters of the course.