This series of courses provides best practices for online instruction, student engagement and virtual community building; effective uses of asynchronous and synchronous technologies, social media and other emerging technologies; and data analysis techniques and student performance measurements to individualize instruction in an online or blended environment. The courses in this Specialization may be taken in any order. Each course can be taken independently. The Specialization concludes with a final project that will give you the opportunity to integrate and apply the skills you have gained throughout the courses.
Foundations of Virtual Instruction
This course provides teachers with the foundation for understanding the movement towards virtual instruction. It introduces fundamental knowledge needed by teachers to succeed in a technology-dependent, instructional environment. You will explore the history of online learning and understand how a variety of delivery models are evolving in the K-12 environment, ranging from completely online to hybrid or blended classrooms. We will discuss how the programs work and who they serve, addressing some basics about equity issues, access and school funding, as well as ethical and legal issues that support and challenge the models. Upon completion of the course, you will understand what it takes to transition from teaching in the classroom to providing virtual instruction. Upon completing this course, you will be able to: 1. Describe the history of online learning models 2. Identify current virtual instruction models and who offers them 3. Explain how virtual instruction models have evolved and why 4. Describe common features of synchronous and asynchronous technologies 5. Discuss basic ethical and legal issues faced by schools
Emerging Trends & Technologies in the Virtual K-12 Classroom
Emerging technologies are quickly gaining momentum in the field of virtual K-12 instruction. In this course, we will explore how the latest trends in the use of technology affect student learning and engagement. What innovative learning spaces and tools are available to instructors? How can instructors best utilize free and open resources to more deeply engage students in their learning? What impact can the use of emerging technologies have on student retention and performance? We will discuss the possibilities and challenges of using technology in fully online environments, although many of the ideas can be applied to blended and traditional environments as well. Learners will compare and contrast tools for use in K-12 virtual instruction, as well as examine best practices for implementing and managing these tools. Upon completing this course, you will be able to: 1. Understand the role of technology in the distribution of content, the facilitation of collaborative activities, and the assessment of students, courses, and organizations. 2. Identify and evaluate existing and emerging technologies for their value in virtual course instruction and curriculum development. 3. Design and assess a learning activity that utilizes social learning tools. 4. Design and assess a learning activity or curricular program that uses game-based strategies and/or badges to deepen student engagement in virtual courses. 5. Research, critically evaluate, and employ open content in virtual education. 6. Debate the role of MOOCs in virtual K-12 education.
Advanced Instructional Strategies in the Virtual Classroom
This course will help you ‘up’ your game and develop the advanced level skills and techniques that elude even some of the most experienced virtual teachers. We will examine the pitfalls beginning teachers run into and learn how to overcome them by focusing on the fundamentals that have the greatest impact on student learning in a blended or online environment. Throughout the course, you will be challenged to assess your own skills and apply what you are learning by creating a guide, assignment, or resource that you will be able to use in a class that you teach or hope to teach someday soon. By the end of the course, you will not only have a better understanding of the basics, you will be able to put them together like a pro and empower your future students to be voracious learners who are ready to go out and make the world a better place to live. Upon completing this course, you will be able to: 1. Meet your students' needs and craft a better virtual learning experience for them 2. Set up the learning environment so you get to know your students and they get to know each other 3. Personalize learning by providing feedback using a variety of online tools 5. Identify at-risk students and employ effective strategies for teaching them 6. Compare and contrast online and face-to-face learning communities 7. Apply strategies to make virtual courses more human
Performance Assessment in the Virtual Classroom
Effective measures of performance and assessment are a crucial component of any virtual program. Teachers and administrators must understand both the myths and challenges of assessing performance virtually, administering standardized testing with geographical challenges, and complying with state and local requirements to make sure students are meeting requirements. This course will discuss student performance in a virtual classroom, formats of virtual assessments, assessing special populations, including at-risk, gifted, and special needs students, data analysis of virtual course gradebooks, and learning management systems as related to performance and assessment. This course will enable teachers to see the importance of communication and organization in managing virtual caseloads, and monitoring student learning remotely through the effective use of learning management system features.
Virtual Teacher Final Project
The Final Project will be a hands-on, comprehensive project that practitioners of virtual education can implement in their profession. For this final project, learners will draft a design plan for an online learning module utilizing materials learned from the virtual teacher series. Learners will choose the subject matter, method of delivery, tools, instructional strategies, and assessments, with the goal of creating a module of online or blended instruction that meets the needs of their students. Learners do not have to create, develop or teach the online learning module they design. Upon completing this course, you will be able to: 1. Design a fully online or blended instructional module 2. Apply theories and/or strategies of effective online instruction
The courses are designed for teachers working with K-12 students, instructors working with further education, community college or vocational students, continuing education or in-service facilitators supporting teachers and faculty, and educators interested in educational technology an/or online instruction. No prior teaching experience is necessary.