Learn to Teach Online

Interested Educators Can Enroll in Open Teacher Training

The Importance of Teacher Training in The Online Environment

By Richard Copeland, Supervisor of Teacher Quality, and Jane O'Brien, Teacher Training Specialist, Georgia Virtual Learning

When online learning first evolved on the fringes of K-12 education, it represented a novel mechanism to replicate the classroom experience for students who desired a more flexible, student-centered approach to learning. According to the most recent report from iNACOL, the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, an estimated quarter of a million students are presently enrolled in full-time online programs, and more than six hundred thousand K-12 students have been enrolled in at least one, semester long course (Keeping Pace with K-12 and Blended Online Learning, 2012). Unlike the traditional classroom, online learning has the obvious advantage of reaching remote or rural students and offering courses and content not readily available in the brick and mortar schools.

Creating an Authentic, Accessible Learning Experience

With teacher-training in the online environment, training models are fused together with innovative technology and a heightened emphasis on communication skills, as well as various tools to bridge the distance. Creating meaningful and authentic academic experiences for 21st century students involves entering their environment and understanding best practices and methods of delivering instruction rather than replicating the traditional classroom approach. Students at Georgia Virtual School (GaVS) often report that their online class was the best academic experience of their high school education.

A large number of students rely on the GaVS program to find courses not offered at their school, and many enroll in courses that align better with their schedule and afford academic flexibility: “online learning offers the advantage of personalization, allowing individualized attention and support when students need it most” (Promising practices in online learning, 2012). Furthermore, a number of students enroll in online courses because they realize that online education will be required in all higher education pathways.

Specializing in the Online Environment

The shift to the mainstream has also helped stakeholders to fully realize the vast strengths of online learning and to facilitate the training of teachers transitioning to this environment. Teachers require support with technology and new tools, but, more importantly, they must have a foundation to build best practices. Without geographic restrictions, Georgia Virtual Learning (GaVL) has been able to hire exceptional, experienced classroom teachers across all disciplines, and these teachers consistently remark that transitioning into an online learning platform is similar to starting a new profession.

Of course, all teachers require a basic understanding of online education due to the integration of shared resources and blended learning across a number of districts. The benefits of online education must be applied to the traditional classroom as well to ensure students obtain opportunities to participate in innovative learning practices. Influencing students in an environment where they are actively participating and communicating with others daily is essential. Data obtained in the online classroom aids greatly in isolating teaching styles and instructional methods that align with each student. As a result of this progressive approach, students can have an individualized learning experience that offers the best chance for their mastery and continued success.

Take Advantage of Available Online Teacher Training

Teaching Open Online Learning, or TOOL, is GaVL’s response to the MOOC movement, and highlights the essential traits of highly effective online educators. Through the completion of five learning skills, participants obtain an amplified understanding of the relevance of effective communication practices, sound, evaluative techniques, and navigation through disparate LMS (Learning Management System) platforms. Moreover, the course also provides participants with activities on developing innovative content and general course design, as well as material on the importance of participating actively as a Digital Citizen.

GaVL’s new training model is the program’s best attempt to align the foundations of online pedagogy, established by ISTE Nets-T and iNACOL, with the experience relayed by GaVL instructors. In addition, GaVL has also assembled members of the mentoring team to assess participants and provide feedback on their work and transform the teacher preparation model for online education and produce online instructors that “understand the primary concepts and structures of effective online instruction and [are] able to create learning experiences to enable student success” (National standards for online teaching, 2012).

Article Sources:

iNACOL. (2012). Keeping pace with K-12 and blended online learning. Retrieved, June 17, 2013

iNACOL. (2012). National standards for online teaching. Retrieved, June 23, 2013

iNACOL. (2012). Promising Practices in Online Learning. Retrieved, June 19, 2013

About TOOL:

Registration opens December 1, 2013

Self-paced, incentivized learning with achievement badges

Open to any educators who are interested in gaining more skills in teaching in the online environment

Is required for all GAVL Instructors

A certificate will be awarded to those completing the paid cohort

Badges awarded to all students who complete courses

First course is "Effective Online Teaching," which consists of 5 modules

Georgia Virtual Learning

Georgia's Choice for Quality Online Public School Courses

Offering Credit Recovery

Over 22 AP Courses

Expanded Middle School Option

NCAA Accredited for Athletes

Professional Development Leader in Training for Teaching Online #eteacherTOOL