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More Teachers Taking Online Classes

Teachers increasingly are using computers for teaching and learning -- not just for their students' education but for their own as well. This week, Education World talks to two teachers who have experience with online courses. Included: An extensive list of institutions offering online courses for teachers.

Across the United States and around the world, computers quickly are becoming an integral component of education delivery not only in K-12 classrooms but also in the classrooms where teachers themselves study. More and more, those classrooms have moved from university campuses to cyberspace, as teachers turn to online alternatives for their own education.

Institutions of Virtual Learning

Many schools, organizations, and private companies now offer both individual courses and degree programs that can be completed online. For a comprehensive listing of those that offer accredited online graduate programs for educators, visit Education World's Online Degree Directory.

Additional Resources

Additional information and resources related to online learning include:

* Connected University
Connected University is a subscription-based, online professional development community for educators. A free tour of CU's offerings is available without a subscription.

* PDALInC Leadership Institute
This page describes an intensive online course offered by the Professional Development Alliance (PDA), an agency of the Regional Offices of Education in Illinois. The course teaches teams of teachers, technology coordinators, staff developers, and library media specialists to create learning projects that incorporate technology.

Education World recently talked with two teachers who have chosen the virtual campus over the actual one; Tressie A. Turner, a teacher at Union Parish Alternative School in Farmerville, Louisiana, and Debra Reymundo, project administrator with the Hillsboro (Texas) Community Network.

Turner, who currently is enrolled in a master of education degree program through the University of Phoenix Online, also has taken two online courses for alternative certification from Louisiana Tech, in Ruston, Louisiana. She chose an online program because "nothing surpasses the convenience." Online courses also provide a couple of additional benefits, Turner noted. Online students improve their computer skills and learn new methods of effective communication.

"I enjoyed every minute of online classes," Turner said. "In online classes, you decide when to work on assignments. You don't have to consider travel time, bad weather, or iffy road conditions. You can go to class directly from your bed, if necessary. Parking, which is a big problem at many universities, isn't an issue."

Reymundo, a member of the first group of students to complete Pepperdine University's online master of arts program, also chose online education because of its convenience, and because "it allowed me to get a degree from my dream university, which would not have been possible otherwise."

Reymundo also likes the opportunity online courses provide to meet people from different areas of the country. "Before beginning my master's degree online, I never imagined that I could actually collaborate with people from all over the country. My classmates live in Hawaii, New York, and many states in between," she noted. Reymundo particularly came to value the sense of community the students developed. "To me, what made my online learning experience so special and rewarding was that I became a part of a 'community of practice.' I wasn't some lost soul drifting in cyberspace with no support group."

WOULD THEY DO IT AGAIN?

Both teachers enjoyed the online experience so much, they were eager to repeat it. "Since completing my master's online," Reymundo told Education World, "I've taught classes online for Connected University. I am also in the process of developing online high school courses for a Pepperdine colleague's online school, as well as participating in an online certification program to teach high school technology applications courses."

Turner added, "I plan to get my doctorate of education degree from the University of Phoenix when I finish this master's degree. I would do it again and again."

ADVICE FOR TEACHERS CONSIDERING ONLINE EDUCATION

For those considering online education, Turner offered this advice. "Stay focused and the work will be very rewarding. Online courses are the best way to earn an education for the person who must work as they earn a degree."

Turner added, however, that online students should be prepared to work, not play. A good online student must be disciplined, dedicated to learning, and self-motivated, Turner said. "People would be surprised at the rigor of online learning. Online classes are much more stringent than on-campus, face-to-face classes, requiring many more opinion papers, long articles to write, more research, and so on."

Reymundo agreed, saying, "It was a lot of fun, but it was 'hard fun!' I was pushed to new heights and challenged to stretch not only my abilities, but also the abilities of the students I was teaching and those I would teach in the future."

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON ONLINE EDUCATION

If you're considering online education, you'll find a lot of information on the Web. The following sites contain general background information about learning online, including topics such as financial aid, accreditation, and personal characteristics necessary for successful online study:
  • Distance Education This section of the Web site of The Chronicle of Higher Education contains links to many articles about distance learning.
  • Distance Learning Week This site from PBS is packed with information about all aspects of distance learning, including online learning.
  • World Wide Learn World Wide Learn is a directory of online courses, degree programs, certificates, professional continuing education, and learning resources in many subject areas offered by institutions and corporations around the world.
  • The Distance Education and Training Council This educational association and accrediting agency offers a list of accredited institutions and extensive resources about distance education.
  • geteducated.com This research and consulting firm specializing in distance education offers a directory of online colleges and a list of articles and resources for online learners.

ARTICLES AND REPORTS ON ONLINE LEARNING

The following sites contain articles and reports about online learning.



 

Article by Mary Daniels Brown
Education World®
Copyright © 2002 Education World

02/13/2002
Updated 02/22/2005