Certificate program supports K-12 teachers with online learning
While there’s no shortage of PD opportunities for educators covering online teaching, a new Virtual Education program at New York Institute of Technology allows teachers to officially show what they know. Both courses required for a microcredential, Virtual Learning and Virtual Learning Applications, are being offered this summer, allowing for completion before the new school year begins—a year that may begin in-building but get interrupted for another round of distance learning.
Teachers looking to continue their studies can earn a 12-credit Advanced Certificate in Virtual Education, also via online courses.
Prior to campus and school closures, an earlier iteration of the Virtual Learning program emphasized the development of new, fully online curricula, says Robert Feirsen, New York Tech’s Department of Education chair. “In light of the COVID pandemic, we shifted the program to provide teachers with deeper knowledge and understanding of online and blended environments necessary to adapt their existing courses and curricula.”
For example, a high school math teacher would gain skills needed to transform a first-year algebra course “into a meaningful, engaging online experience while still addressing educational standards,” adds Feirsen.
The aim is to support teachers with all levels of tech knowledge. “There is no prerequisite in terms of computer expertise,” says Feirsen. As one of his colleagues put it, “If you can identify the top side of a mouse, you are ready for the course.”
The first course explores web-based technologies for instructional delivery of K-12 online course content, and the second provides experience in developing lesson plans and delivering virtual learning instructional units for diverse groups of students. Each three-credit course costs $1,395 and will be offered during New York Tech’s second summer session. Feirsen hopes school districts will consider using CARES Act funding to support staff professional development opportunities.
“This Virtual Education program provides teachers with the understandings and skills they need right now,” says Feirsen. Short certification programs in online teaching, he adds, aren’t currently a common offering, but they are “a growing trend as educators seek professional learning directly related to their work and schools and deliverable within a focused timeframe.”
Melissa Ezarik is senior managing editor of UB.
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