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Virtually Unprepared: Examining the Preparation of K-12 Online Teachers

Virtually Unprepared: Examining the Preparation of K-12 Online Teachers
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Author(s): Michael K. Barbour (Wayne State University, USA), Jason Siko (Grand Valley State University, USA), Elizabeth Gross (Wayne State University, USA) and Kecia Waddell (Wayne State University, USA)
Copyright: 2013
Pages: 22
Source title: Teacher Education Programs and Online Learning Tools: Innovations in Teacher Preparation
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Richard Hartshorne (University of Central Florida, USA), Tina L. Heafner (University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA) and Teresa Petty (University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1906-7.ch004


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At present, there are very few examples of the preparation of teachers for the online environment in teacher education. Even more unfortunate is that less than 40% of all online teachers in the United States reported receiving any professional development before they began teaching online. While some virtual schools provide some training to their own teachers, in most instances, no such training is provided to the school-based personnel. This is unfortunate, as K-12 student success in online learning environments require support from both the online teacher and the local school-based teacher. Clearly, there is a need for teacher education programs to equip all teachers with initial training in how to design, deliver, and – in particular – support K-12 online learning. This chapter begins with an examination of the act of teaching online and how that differs from teaching in a face-to-face environment. Next, the chapter describes existing teacher education initiatives targeted to pre-service teachers (i.e., undergraduate students) and then in-service teachers (i.e., graduate students). This is followed by an evaluation of current state-based initiatives to formalize online teaching as an endorsement area. Finally, a summary of the unique aspects of teaching online and how some initiatives have attempted to address these unique skills, before outlining a course of action that all teacher education programs should consider adopting.

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