In October, Neumann University will offer a K-12 Online Instruction program to provide teachers with the knowledge, awareness, and skills to effectively design, deliver, and assess K-12 academic learning content in hybrid and virtual settings.
Made up of four classes, the program will run from October 2020 through June 2021 with one course this fall, two next spring, and one in the first summer session of 2021. All four will be delivered fully online.
This program is designed to provide timely help for teachers, given the recent outbreak of COVID-19. “Emergency online teaching is not teaching online,” said Dr. Stephanie Budhai, referencing the recent closing of schools due to the pandemic. A professor of graduate education at Neumann, Budhai designed the program and wants teachers to be prepared if there is a second wave of the virus or for the expansion of online learning.
The difference between online teaching and in-class teaching is a difference in pedagogical technique. The student is learning the same content. The difference is how the student is taught. The teacher approaches individual and group assignments, as well as ways to engage the student, differently than if in class.
For example, teachers looking to engage their students in a virtual setting can use multiple avenues for communicating with those students, such as embedded audio and video, chat rooms or instant messaging, or broadcast text messaging and homepage announcements.
Nicole Draper, a third-grade teacher at Harlan Elementary in the Brandywine School District, says that the online instruction courses “helped me gain a wealth of knowledge and skills and develop a passion for instructional technology.”
Draper graduated from Neumann in 2014 and earned her master’s degree in education there in 2016. “The courses helped me empower my students to become independent learners and problem-solvers,” she explains.
In a previous, fifth-grade teaching position, she asked her students to create podcasts about historical figures. Using online tools, they conducted research, wrote scripts, and gained experience in public speaking. “The online tools engaged and excited them about the assignment,” Draper recalls. “This assignment helped me develop a deep understanding of how online content can be rigorous.”
The four graduate-level courses are “Emerging Trends and Professional Responsibilities,” “Designing and Developing Online Blended Content,” “Effective Teaching in an Online Setting” and “Authentic Online Assessement Practices.”
Pennsylvania certified teachers can earn a teaching endorsement from the PA Department of Education by completing all four courses.