Recruit and Retain: The Future of Education

Virtual Teaching Preparation: Learning to Teach Online

Virtual learning has taken off – and with it, virtual teaching. Many school districts are choosing to set up their own virtual academies and make online learning an option on into the future. They’re in the hiring market!

This is an area where teachers can specialize. As Kennesaw University has noted, the principles of virtual instruction are different from those for face to face instruction ( Most teachers have some experience in virtual teaching at this stage. Some have seen the potential. That doesn’t mean they’re experts. In most cases, they were learning as they went.

Virtual Learning Certificate Programs

Certificate programs build theoretical knowledge as well as practical knowledge. Those who want to teach virtually as a career will find plenty of opportunities to hone their skills and make themselves competitive.

Many universities offer post-baccalaureate certificate programs in online learning. They are typically about 12 credits long. Some can be applied toward master’s programs in educational technology. Some programs are designed specifically for K-12 teachers while others are intended for K-12, college, and adult learning settings.

The following are among the factors a teacher may want to consider when selecting a program:

  • Whether they are interested in meeting short-term or long-term goals
  • Whether they want course design and theory now or want to focus in tools, management systems, and engagement tools
  • Whether the content is a good fit for the age group they plan to cover
  • Whether the program is a good fit geographically

Kindergarten and primary grade teachers may want to pay particular attention to how well programs align with their needs. Online learning was at one point offered primarily to students in the older grades. AP and credit recovery were among the most common focuses. Not only are the management styles of primary grade teachers different, some of the technologies they use are different. (Will the instructor have a solid background in educational management systems used in the primary grades?)

The certificate programs themselves are typically online. Some are self-paced or accelerated. Educators may find themselves with a lot of options.

State-Specific Offerings

A small number of states offer an e-learning endorsement that can be added to a K-12 educator license. Teachers who live in these states will want to make sure the program they choose meets state curricular standards. Schools may, for example, need to assess competencies in particular modalities. Teachers who plan on pursuing e-learning endorsements may need to select in-state programs.

Programs may vary from state to state based on curricular standards set by educational agencies. South Carolina programs, for example, are arguably pragmatic in nature. There are two courses that are required for all applicants: teaching effectively online and using educational content management systems. The other two courses are elective, though individual institutions may narrow the choices.

Some programs are restricted to teachers who hold credentials in a particular state. Others enroll more broadly.

Online Teaching Graduate Certificate Programs

Boise State University offers an online track specifically for K-12 teachers. The programs covers both online and blended courses. The nine-credit program includes two mandatory courses and an elective. Boise State also offers a portfolio-based pathway for individuals who seek an Idaho online teaching endorsement.

Clemson University (South Carolina) offers a 12-unit certificate program for educators who already hold certification at at least the initial level. Among the elective options are personalized learning and use of digital portfolios for assessment.

Albany State University offers a four course program that meets Georgia endorsement requirements. The program culminates in a practicum experience.

Cal State East Bay offers a flexible asynchronous certificate option. Students may choose a four course or five-course sequence. The five-course sequence includes a course in content design for online educators.

Credit vs Noncredit Programs

Many programs are offered for academic credit. The post-baccalaureate credits may help teachers move up the salary scale. There are also continuing education options. These programs are often pragmatic – focused on the nuts and bolts of teaching children at the K-12 level. Participants may receive a substantial block of continuing education credit.

National University offers a ten module program designed specifically for K-12 teachers. The program is focused on the practical needs of classroom teachers who are transitioning to virtual learning. Modules cover topics such as utilizing virtual education platforms, editing images, and leveraging online space to promote socio-emotional learning. While courses do not result in credit, students who enroll in the school’s master of education program may have two courses waived.

In some cases, the non-academic programs may meet state continuing education requirements.

Some teachers will receive training based on geography or employment circumstances. QM Matters currently has a partnership in place whereby South Dakota K-12 teachers have their fees waived. Louisiana State University students may get a small amount of course credit for the QM program.