Studying teaching online is not for everyone. There are several factors you should consider when deciding whether to pursue your education online or in a more traditional physical setting.
One of the biggest draws of an online education in any field is the amount of flexibility that it allows. Courses will rarely, if ever, have specific times that you need to be available. Instead, assignments are usually due at certain time each week – every Sunday evening, for example – and you can complete and submit them at any time up to that point. Discussions are usually conducted through online forums, which are more versatile than chat rooms. This lets you maintain commitments that would pose difficulties for an on-campus student, such as raising a family.
Because you can complete your coursework according to your own schedule, many students keep their jobs while studying. If you work during the day you can study at night; if you work at night you can study in the day. While many students benefit from financial aid, the extra income from a full-time job can only help in making a college education a viable option.
Many students also find that they can study more efficiently at home. There is no travel time, so you can devote more time to studying. There are also fewer distractions. Many schools make a wide array of electronic resources available to their online students, meaning that you can in theory access all of your required school supplies, materials, and resources from one room.
Online programs do have drawbacks, though. One disadvantage is that education is a people-oriented field, and most teachers work in physical classrooms. While online students do spend some time working as student teachers, they miss out on the chance to observe firsthand the methods and habits of their own teachers. Students also lack face-to-face communication and discussion with their peers. While online institutions use their communication resources as effectively as they can, there is a marked difference between online and in-person discussion.
The need for practical classroom experience is perhaps the biggest drawback of an online teaching degree. The amount of support for student teachers can vary, and it can be difficult being the only student teacher from a program in a given school.
To earn an online degree, you must be very self-motivated. The flexibility of studying online can be a wonderful advantage, but it requires serious organization and motivation on the part of the student. Professors are unable to remind students each day to stay on top of their assignments, and the workload can quickly get out of control.
And Now it’s up to You…
As with any major life decision, picking the right school and degree program requires research. There are many online schools that do not have accreditation, and there are many that are little more than scams. It is up to you to make sure that your money is going towards a worthwhile education. Employers these days recognize that an online education is valid preparation for a career, but only if it comes from a properly certified institution.
How Do I Earn My Teaching Degree Online?
Over the past several years, the quality and reputation of online degrees has risen dramatically. Institutions have worked hard to create impressive virtual degree programs that are comparable to those found in physical settings. More and more students are discovering that online degrees offer them a flexible way to earn an education while maintaining a job, a family, and other commitments. One of the largest fields catered to by online degrees is teaching and education.
What to Look For
There are several factors to consider when looking for a strong online teaching program. It is always a good idea to talk to current students, graduates, and employers to learn about a particular program’s reputation. Curriculums and standards can vary from school to school, and the result is that some graduates are better prepared than others to be effective teachers. Take some time to learn how students of a program feel about the education they have received, and talk to school administrators to find out which programs produce the most successful teachers.
Before applying for an online education program, research its accreditation status. Employers will only accept degrees from institutions that have been accredited by a recognized authority. There are six regional accrediting agencies in the United States, which offer the most prestigious type of accreditation, and many more national accrediting agencies. The Department of Education maintains a list of recognized authorities. Look for a statement concerning accreditation on a school’s website or printed materials, and then cross-check that information with the Department of Education.
One of the most valuable components of a program in teaching is the opportunity to gain experience in a real classroom setting. This experience usually includes observing professional teachers, participating in professional development activities and workshops, and student teaching. When looking at online programs, establish whether or not they offer this type of experience, and avoid the programs that do not.
Length, Cost, Learning Format
The length of an online education or teaching program varies according to the specific program requirements, and your personal schedule. However, an associate degree typically takes between one and two years, and a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree takes between two and three years each.
The cost of a program varies depending on its reputation, the technology used, the quality of the faculty, and the type of degree being offered. The formats of specific online courses can vary as well, but most consist of readings, online discussions, essays and projects – much like a physical, in-person course.
What to Expect in the Curriculum
Online education programs generally feature many of the same components. Students are expected to take a variety of classes to develop their abilities as effective educators. Some of these classes deal with the practical aspects of teaching, such as working with students, and others involve aspects such as the use of technology in the classroom.
In addition to these courses, students spend time teaching in an actual classroom under the guidance of a professional educator. Student teachers are usually required to design and implement their own course unit. Programs are also typically tailored to meet specific state licensing requirements, which can affect the content that is taught.