Online teachers and online training of teachers

By:

Sep 24, 2009

According to an article in eSchool News, online programs are seeing a dramatic spike in teaching applications.

Specifically, K12, Inc. and Connections Academy are reporting massive spikes in applications, and the article theorizes that it’s because of the layoffs in the traditional brick-and-mortar schools. There are some other contributors as well—such as specialists like mathematicians wanting to share their knowledge and teachers who are seeking a change.

I can’t say I’m all that surprised. As online learning continues to grow rapidly even as there is contraction in the traditional system, there will be more jobs available in online, and for certain people—although certainly not all—online teaching presents a more attractive career path for a variety of reasons (the ones cited above, flexibility, etc.).

Additionally, there is an interesting piece in Education Week that is an interview with Chris Dede, a professor of learning technology at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. When Professor Dede speaks, I make it a matter of habit to try and listen (or read in this case!), and this interview doesn’t disappoint as he talks about both the current state of and the future of online professional development in a short piece.

As I’ve noted before, professional development is in fact a big area of nonconsumption in many districts and presents an exciting place to provide potentially much more useful, just-in-time training to teachers that matches with the need they have in a format that will be most effective for them.

Professor Dede paints a richer, more nuanced picture—from the current challenges facing online professional development and why simply converting face-to-face professional development to an online format doesn’t make sense to the types of customization, interaction, and reflection that are possible in this world. In addition, he sees that, in this case, the market seems to be working and pushing online professional development to improve. He also believes that two factors—the need for scale in professional development and the need for fundamentally more affordable models—as a big drive for why online professional development will evolve and grow rapidly in the years ahead.

Also, one note — watch the video of Professor Dede where he talks about our book. I actually don’t see this as a disagreement at all, as readers of this blog will know. We don’t say in the book that schools will go out of business in the book as Professor Dede asserts. That’s why it’s called Disrupting Class–not Disrupting Schools.

– Michael B. Horn

Michael is a co-founder and distinguished fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute. He currently works as a principal consultant for Entangled Solutions.