There is a story developing in Florida that has been appearing in my inbox via my Yahoo News Alert for virtual school and the ASCD Smart Brief. It’ll show up tomorrow in the Virtual Schooling in the News weekly feature, but it caught my attention this morning and I wanted to talk a bit about it.
“Virtual internships” prepare future educators to teach online classes
Future teachers at the University of Central Florida are participating in “virtual internships” to prepare them to teach students via Internet courses. The students are paired with teaching mentors at the Florida Virtual School — the first public school in the country to conduct all classes online — allowing them to familiarize themselves with the technology they will be using and with the teaching methods used in a virtual classroom. Orlando Sentinel (Fla.) (1/14)
Florida Virtual School, UCF to train future teachers how to instruct online
Orlando Sentinel Wed, 14 Jan 2009 1:23 AM PST
The Florida Virtual School — the country’s first entirely online statewide public school — and the University of Central Florida are teaming up to offer future teachers what they call first-of-its-kind training: virtual internships.
UCF, online school ink partnership
Orlando Business Journal Wed, 14 Jan 2009 6:27 AM PST
The University of Central Florida and Florida Virtual School are partnering on a new program allowing college students to intern with the Florida Virtual School.
Virtual interns will learn online teaching
Sun-Sentinel Thu, 15 Jan 2009 3:29 AM PST
UCF grads will learn how to teach online The Florida Virtual School — the country’s first entirely online statewide public school — and the University of Central Florida are teaming up to offer future teachers what they call first-of-its-kind training: Virtual internships.
As best I can tell, the program is associated with the Internship Opportunities provide by the Instructional Technology program at University of Central Florida (see PreK-12 for the specifics available).
As you may have noticed, over the past week or so I’ve been talking a bit about Teacher Education and K-12 Online Learning (see Teaching And Learning Online and Telelearning And Rural School Teaching for these recent examples). So, a few words about this development…
While it is a comprehensive approach to preparing pre-service and in-service teachers for teaching in a K-12 online learning environment, I’m not sure that I would classify it as the “first of its kind”. There have been other programs that have included virtual field experiences (although I’m not sure if they have been as long or as extensive as the ones proposed here).
As one quick example, there was a fellow blogger who posted about her experiences doing observations of a virtual school course (see here and here and here and here). I believe that this was at the University of Florida, so I’m going to guess Cathy Cavanaugh was responsible for that course (maybe even the Virtual School Philosophy and Pedagogy course).
Another, probably more comprehensive example would be the Teacher Education Goes into Virtual Schooling (TEGIVS) program at Iowa State University (see TEGIVS tag). I note that in addition to their general curriculum, they have courses that appear to be associated with a field experience (see here and here).
Also, as I mentioned a few days ago in Teaching And Learning Online, Geoff Roulet at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario has a course entitled Teaching and Learning Online that offers an alternate practicum, which he describes as:
Agencies delivering online education programs have indicated support for courses such as FOCI 291, introducing teacher candidates to teaching and learning online. They are willing to explore the possibility of providing opportunities for candidates to experience both online teaching and the development of online curriculum and learning activities. Candidates may wish to spend the Alternate Practicum period participating in the development and delivery of online courses in jurisdictions beyond Ontario and Canada.
A significant number of individual classroom teachers are interested in developing learning objects and websites to complement their classroom activities. Many are just in the initial stages of such experiments and would welcome assistance in the design of web-based learning environments and online interaction with students. Course participants could find Alternate Practicum placements working with these teachers.
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that here at Wayne State University we had students enrolled in our IT7130 course (i.e., Facilitation of On-Line and Face-To-Face Learning) who completed practicums with the Illinois Virtual High School during the Winter 2008 and Fall 2008 semesters.
Please note that I am not trying to diminish this particular initiative at the University of Central Florida. Do I believe this to be a good program? Based on what I have read, yes. Do I think that there should be more programs like this? Absolutely!
However, I think it is important for the media to get things write (and for people to speak up when they don’t). Otherwise, we’ll be heading off to overthrow some dictator, totally devastate some underdeveloped country, be stuck there for years to come, all because our leaders told us about these weapons of mass destruction and the media never bothered to question it! Oh wait…
The truth is important, even well we are talking about good and welcome news…