Monday, March 31, 2014

Thoughts from SITE 2014

I am now flying home from Jacksonville, where I recently attended the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE) Conference. I had two presentations there, one which I recently finished blogging about. For a great overview of the sessions related to K-12 online learning, I would suggest the summaries posted by our colleague Michael Barbour (Wayne State University) at his virtual schooling blog

In particular, I want to comment on several SITE conference sessions that were related to certification in online teaching. First, there is some discussion in Michigan about implementing an online teaching endorsement. Currently, we have the educational technology endorsement (NP), but it is a not a teaching endorsement. However, of the standards involved in this particular endorsement, over half are directly related to online teaching. Two states, Idaho and Georgia, currently have online teaching endorsements, but they are non-binding. That is, you do not need the endorsement to teach online. Wisconsin was the first state to REQUIRE some form of professional development in order to teach online, but it was poorly articulated, and the requirement was repealed by the legislature in 2013.

I attended several SITE conference panel sessions that discussed this issue. The panelists were a mix of K-12 online researchers (Kathryn Kennedy, Leanna Archambault, Michael Barbour) and representatives from both the Michigan Department of Education and Michigan Virtual University (Leah Breen, Kristen DeBruler). The key takeaways for the future of this endorsement were as follows:

  • As research in K-12 online learning develops, so should the requirements for the endorsement;
  • Universities looking to offer the endorsement in their curriculum would likely need to include a field experience;
  • This field experience needs to be fostered NOW, particularly by fostering relationships with online providers in the state.
As less that 2% of teacher prep programs currently offer online field experiences (Kennedy & Archambault, 2012), while online and blended learning is growing at an exponential rate (Picciano et al., 2012), states need to do something, and universities need to be prepared to adapt.

A review and critique of standards- and competency-based approaches to preparing online teachers by Baran, Correia and Thompson (2011) offers an alternative to traditional conceptions of preparation for online teaching that embodies teacher empowerment, critical reflection and technology integration. 

We will explore the research and our experiences with preparation for teaching in K-12 and higher education online and blended settings in future blog postings. 

Baran, E., Correia, A-P., & Thompson, A. (2011). Transforming online teaching practice: Critical analysis of the literature on the roles and competencies of online teachers. Distance Education, 32(3), 421-439. 

Kennedy, K., & Archambault, L. (2012). Offering preservice teachers field experiences in K-12 online learning: A national survey of teacher education programs. Journal of Teacher Education, 63(3), 185-200.

Picciano, A.G., Seaman, J., Shea, P., & Swan, K. (2012). Examining the extent and nature of online learning in American K-12 Education: The research initiatives of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The Internet and Higher Education, 15(2), 127-135.

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