Virtual School Meanderings

March 24, 2011

Online Teacher Certification Announced At CUE 2011 – Leading Edge Certification

inacolI saw this posted in one of the iNACOL forums yesterday.

Just a quick announcement, folks –

CUE, along with iNACOL, ISTE and 15 other nonprofit, university and governmental groups, announced a program to certify educators beginning with online teachers at the CUE Conference last week in Palm Springs.

The program, called Leading Edge Certification, will be national in scope, and will launch in July of this year. Lainie Rowell is the coordinator of the project, and Allison Powell of iNACOL has assisted in its development. It is led by an Alliance of the groups referenced above, gathered by CUE over the last 10 months.

iNACOL standards are the basis for the curriculum, and participants will create an online portfolio to demonstrate completion of certification requirements. Future certifications will focus on classroom/hybrid teachers, administrators, librarians and professional developers, but all flavors are being developed for face-to-face, online and hybrid delivery.

More details will be included in the official press release, going out tomorrow, but I wanted iNACOL members aware of the program prior to that announcement.

If your organization is interested in joining the effort, and providing training that would lead to certification, please contact me at .

More info:


Mike Lawrence
Executive Director, CUE
iNACOL affiliate

Immediately following the announcement, my good friend Ray Rose (also known as the e-Learning Evangelist) asked:

The term “Certification” is interesting. Certification is most often associated with the formal “teacher certification” which is teacher licensure provided by individual states. Are any SEAs part of this effort or is this actually a certificate program, providing courses that lead not to a degree but a certificate showing participation in a program with a specific focus?

Personally, I would add a couple of questions beyond Ray’s confusion about the term certification.  I’d ask what is the value of this kind of certification?  The announcement indicates that the certification will be based on the iNACOL standards.  Standards which have not be validated and have not had any published research to support them (see CIDER – Validation Study: Online Learner Competencies for a discussion of this issue).

Beyond the issue of basing a program on standards that have yet to be proven reliable or valid, I still ask what is the real value of this?  Does it lead to any kind of endorsement to a teacher’s state-based certification?  This is an important question.  For example, there is an online teaching endorsement in the State of Georgia and at present both at Georgia State University program and Valdosta State University offer graduate level courses that would lead to this endorsement.  Why would an online teacher in Georgia opt for the Leading Edge Certification when it gives them nothing in the State of Georgia beyond a line on the resume and a meaningless piece of paper.  In the State of Michigan the online teaching and learning standards make up approximately half of the standards in the educational technology (NP) endorsement.  Most instructional technology programs in Michigan, including my own at Wayne State University, offer Master’s and Educational Specialist’s degree programs that allow students to meet this endorsement.  Why would an online teacher in Michigan choose the Leading Edge Certification over one of these programs?

Beyond the issue of it not leading to any additional endorsement to their teacher certification, I still ask what is the real value of this?  For example, can it be used towards a Master’s, Educational Specialist’s or doctoral degree at any university?  As I read through this I’m reminded of a conversation that I had with a statewide virtual school about three years ago when we were first planning out our Graduate Certificate in Online Teaching at Wayne State University.  We had started having discussions about a joint certificate program, similar to the partnership that Virtual High School has with their Certificate in Online Teaching and Learning that they have with Endicott College or Plymouth State University.  Instead this virtual school opted for these five to six week courses that they offered and upon completion of several of them (I believe it was three or five) they awarded a certificate or some sort.  Why would an online teacher take one of these glorified online professional development opportunities, at roughly the same price per time commitment, as opposed to taking courses that lead to a university certificate and can also be used towards a Master’s, Educational Specialist’s or doctoral degree?

The bottom line is what does this new online teacher certification actually achieve?  As I see it, potentially a stream of revenue for those organizations involved…  But not much more!


  1. I haven’t decided yet where I land on this. Have they announced information on cost?

    Comment by Tom Nixon — March 28, 2011 @ 1:40 am | Reply

  2. Not that I have seen. Based on what I have seen thus far (which I’ll admit has been limited), the bottom line is other than a line on the resume and a piece of paper they can put on their wall, this isn’t much more value in this beyond most other types of professional development provided to online teachers.

    Comment by mkbnl — March 28, 2011 @ 1:46 am | Reply

  3. Michael,
    If I may respectfully address a few elements that may not have been clear. It is important to think about the current group of teachers, administrators, and librarians who are now in the field serving our students every day. Currently there are limited options for these educators to participate in high-quality certification programs focused on online learning. The point of the alliance is to allow support agencies like county offices of education to work together and provide high-quality experiences for educators in their county or area.
    You make excellent points regarding pre-service teachers and administrators that may be seeking a terminal degree, but we want to also be aware of the current practitioners that already have Master’s or Doctoral degrees (and may not want a second or third).
    Also, the group is working with higher education institutions to offer college units as part of the program, and potentially integrate the program with current credential or graduate degree programs. Would you be interested in participating?

    Again, your opinions are valid, and points are taken. Thanks for taking the time to share.

    Comment by Greg Ottinger — March 29, 2011 @ 10:46 am | Reply

  4. Greg,

    You reference “high quality experiences”, but the “certification is based upon a document that has yet to be proven to be of high quality (or any quality).

    Those teachers and administrators who do not want to seek a terminal degree could still take a university-based graduate certificate – and there are about a dozen or so now that have a specific focus on K-12 online learning. If a teacher or administrator in Georgia were to go this route, they would be able to add an online teaching endorsement to their official teacher certification. If a teacher or administrator in Michigan were to do it, there would almost have completed the courses required for the educational technology endorsement (half of the standards of which focus on online course design, delivery and support). As official online teaching endorsements increase, and it seems likely they will, these program will increase as well.

    As a faculty member, I’m always open to discussing potential partnerships. But I have to be honest and say that at this stage of the process this “certification” program seems like a cash grab that provides little in the way of formal recognition for the professional who might be interested – beyond, like I said above, some professional development and a meaningless piece of paper.

    Comment by mkbnl — March 29, 2011 @ 4:12 pm | Reply

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