Friday, August 31, 2012

Online teacher certification

Increasingly we see or hear of teachers with "online certification". I can see how some of the subject knowledge and even some of the professional knowledge topics can be covered online, but I struggle with full certification online.

This discussion to me is simply another facet of the "credentialist" approach which has so hurt US education. The skills and knowledge one gains is secondary; what matters is the credential. This of course trivializes the skills and knowledge and encourages people to accumulate lists of workshops attended, classes taken, and certificates earned.

I know some people will disagree with my comments, but consider how the majority of teacher continuing professional development now consists of logging "clock hours". In other words, one does not have to demonstrate any new or improved skills and knowledge, only that s/he was present.

Online sessions can not even guarantee that the person signing in is the same as the one named on the certificate!

My third concern is that I strongly believe that teaching is based on and stems from relationships - relationships between teacher and student, teacher and group and student and group. Accordingly, the teacher must create and maintain what used to be called "climate" or atmosphere". This cannot come from or be reviewed through an online program. Face-to-face interactions are essential.

Finally, these relationships come from a teacher's personality or his/her being a "good fit". I have seen excellent teachers moved to a different level, or to a different school, or even to a different program, who then become average or worse because the new situation does not fit with their personality. An online program cannot see this or predict this or assess that teacher's potential.

Please do not call me a luddite. Online learning does have a role. However, it should not and cannot replace some traditional teacher certification processes.

1 comment :

Matt. said...

Gran, as far as I know none of these online programs replaces the requirements for practicum hours. Even traditional programs do a poor job filtering. There large numbers of teachers who quit after their first year.