Continuing the Certificate Series, where I have been describing and discussing each of the certificates in online teaching that are focused on the K-12 environment. The fifth one I wanted to discuss was the Certificate in Virtual Teaching at University of California-Irvine (for more information, click here).
Similar to the Arizona State program, the UC-Irvine program has a very specific K-12 focus. However, unlike any other program I have reviewed to date, this certificate is offered through an extension department – which means that it doesn’t naturally lead to graduate credits at the university or other universities (this is not to say that other universities won’t accept these courses, but that UC-Irvine has yet to establish any articulation agreements and it is up to the individual university the student may be interested in trying to transfer the credits to). This also means the courses are shorter than the traditional 15 week, semester-long courses offered by other universities that have been profiled thus far.
The actual program includes four courses, one of which is a field experience.
EDUC X319 – Foundations of Virtual Instruction (3 units)
This course provides teachers with the foundation of information needed to understand the movement of virtual instruction. It introduces fundamental knowledge needed by teachers to succeed in a technology-dependent, instructional environment. Students will explore the history of online learning and understand how a variety of delivery models are evolving in the K-14 environment, ranging from completely online to hybrid or blended classrooms. Students 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, students will understand what it takes for a teacher to transition from teaching in the classroom to providing virtual instruction, and will gain awareness of the types of synchronous and asynchronous technologies being used in these models.
EDUC X319.1 – Advanced Instructional Strategies in the Virtual Classroom (4 units)
Designed for teachers and education professionals in the K-14 industry, this course addresses the design and methodology used to adapt classroom instructional strategies to a virtual environment. Learn about the potential for individualized instruction enabled by technology. Apply best practices for instructing online and for engaging students, one of the most challenging skills when working at a distance. Develop skills in how to differentiate instruction for students remotely, using data and a variety of feedback from students, parents and performance to guide the process. By learning what works with adults and the distance learning industry as a whole, interpret theories and select the best research-based approaches and media to deliver instruction. Expand your toolbox of instructional strategies to include even more critical elements for success in a virtual setting: when and how to use internet resources, social media and other emerging technologies, how to effectively communicate with parents and students, and how to build a successful online community.
EDUC X319.2 – Performance Assessment in the Virtual Classroom (4 units)
Demonstration of student performance is the make-or-break of an education program. In addition to being the fundamental aspect of student achievement, it is a political hot topic in the world of K-14 virtual education, impacting the ability for programs to get off the ground or maintain funding. In this course, we will explore the myths and challenges of assessing performance virtually. We will spend time looking at what is a valid measurement of student outcomes in this environment and experience what it takes to build effective online assessments. You will learn how to monitor student learning, modify your instructional practices, and provide feedback to students and parents so that everyone works effectively within the inherent flexibility of a virtual program. Finally, experience how important it is to tie students’ performance to your own, by exploring the expectations of existing virtual school programs. Explore the types of competencies required, reward systems and performance review processes used by actual schools and programs around the country.
EDUC X319.3 – Virtual Teacher Practicum
This culminating course completes the Virtual Teacher Certificate Program. Gain direct experience teaching online by applying knowledge and skills learned from previous courses to develop and deliver K-14 instruction virtually. Working collaboratively with peers and an advisor, the course will focus on combining your current experience with the awareness and tools gained through the program, to prepare you for virtual teaching.
Something that is quite unique is that the UC-Irvine program lists an advisory board that includes representatives from a number of for-profit K-12 online learning providers and iNACOL (along with a couple of folks from the Los Angeles Unified School District).