PSU online educational partnership goes virtual

Plymouth State University and Virtual High School Global Consortium are teaming up to offer teachers a certificate in online instruction and course design.

Instructors from Virtual High School Global Consortium — a nonprofit organization based in Maynard, Mass., that offers online high school courses to students across the country and around the world — and PSU’s College of Graduate Studies have begun offering a five-course graduate certificate program for K-12 teachers focusing on the integration of technology into the classroom.

“We have been working with VHS since 2002, watching the incredible work they’ve been doing helping teachers to teach online,” said Dr. Dennise Maslakowski, associate vice president for the College of Graduate Studies at PSU. “While there has been a lot of discussion of online education for students, training for teachers to use the technology has not kept pace.”

The 15-credit program includes courses on:

• 21st Century Teaching & Learning, which explores the technology literacy and information and communication technology skills needed for effective 21st century teaching and learning.

• Web-Enhanced Classroom, which prepares face-to-face teachers to incorporate online resources into their classroom instruction.

• Online-Extended Teaching, which prepares teachers to promote active independent learning experiences for students by joining the best features of in-class teaching with the best features of online learning.

• Web 2.0: Collaborative Construction, which prepares teachers to use the tools of Web 2.0 to generate new learning experiences for students of all abilities and learning styles.

• Becoming an Online Teacher, which gives participants the opportunity to experience online teaching by partnering with a VHS online master teacher in an established middle or high school course.

“This program is different from others because, for more than 10 years, our core focus has been on transforming traditional teachers into online teachers, something that resulted in unmatched expertise,” said Liz Pape, president and CEO of VHS. “In addition, regular sharing of ideas amongst our community of online teachers ensures that both new and veteran teachers remain on the cutting-edge of online learning.”

Because the certificate program has just been announced, enrollment figures were not yet available. With the courses themselves online, teachers pursuing other education degrees at PSU can also apply them to their master’s programs of study.

“We’re really changing the way we offer professional development,” said Maslakowski.