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Boise State Research Helps Set National Agenda For Online Teaching

By:    Published 10:39 am / December 13, 2010

More teachers around the nation are skipping traditional brick-and-mortar classrooms and going straight from their credential program into K-12 online teaching. This trend is one of the findings from Going Virtual!, the national research series conducted by Boise State’s Department of Educational Technology.

“Every year we seem to get a couple of findings that really surprise us,” said Lisa Dawley, EdTech chair and one of three investigators in the research series. “This year, we found that about 12 percent of brand new online teachers reported they had never taught face to face.”

The other two investigators were Kerry Rice, associate chair of educational technology, and graduate assistant Glori Hinck.

“Given the maturity, education and years of experience we typically see in online teachers, this surprise was fun to see,” Dawley said. “We anticipate this percentage will grow larger as time goes on, as online and blended education continues to grow and more pre-service and certification programs support online education.”

The Going Virtual! research series is helping to set a national agenda on online teaching. The research is supported by iNACOL, the international Association for kindergarten through 12th grade (K-12) online learning. Education Week, The Chronicle of Higher Education, District Administration and Edutopia have reported on its results. The researchers’ findings also informed the recommendations of a landmark national report designed to reinvent teacher education for the digital age.

The Going Virtual! research series, which began in 2007, seeks to better understand the training, skills and expertise needed for online K-12 teachers to succeed in their profession.

The 2010 national survey included responses from 830 online teachers. They represented virtual schools, supplemental online programs and brick-and-mortar schools offering online courses. Among other things, the report found:

  • The boundaries between virtual and traditional brick-and-mortar schools are blurring and blending, indicating teachers need training for a variety of teaching contexts.
  • About 25 percent of new online teachers received no training in virtual education. But that number goes down to 12 percent by the fifth year of online teaching.
  • Highest rated topics for additional training needs included the psychology of online learning (online loss of inhibition, flaming, cyberbullying), meeting the needs of students with disabilities, instructional design tools and social networking.

Boise State’s College of Education is seeing strong enrollment demand to train students to teach online. The college’s EdTech Department is one of the largest university-based providers of training for K-12 online teachers in the country and provides professional development for many virtual and supplemental programs, including Idaho Digital Learning Academy, Connections Academy, K-12 Inc. and California Virtual Academy.

EdTech offers master’s degrees in educational technology and a graduate certificate that includes a series of courses in K-12 online teaching.