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03 April 2015 @ 04:06 pm
No shortcuts  
Teach for America and in just a few short weeks, you will have all the education you need. Enroll in this online university and complete a college degree and get a free iPad. Come to this trade school and earn big bucks in a matter of months instead of years. "I want a college that revolves around me and my schedule," touts one popular online university. Or, my recent favorite: earn a doctorate in education in 3 years totally online. Every time I see these ads, I pause. I wonder. And, to tell the truth, I worry.

I do teach in an online MLS program. We moved to a totally online program several years ago. In part, it is because many of our students live in remote areas. As a faculty member, every couple of weeks, I would drive 8 hours each way to teach an all day Saturday class FTF. Travel monies were getting more and more scarce thanks to our state legislature cutting funding to higher ed as well as to PK-12 schools. And so the decision was made to teach hybrid classes where we would meet a couple of times a semester for all day weekend classes. Finally, the only alternative was to develop an online program. We did.

But there are no shortcuts. Students in my children's lit classes still read between 75-100 books even in 5 week summer semesters. YA lit requires 30-50 books (but we no longer offer it in summer). They still perform the same assignments as they did in the FTF environment, but now all work is done outside of class. I actually think FTF was a bit easier as we could do more during class meetings.

So, I wonder about what must be left out of a 3 year doc program. Mine was 60 hours plus a minimum of 6 hours for dissertation and required 12 hours of "internship" that had to take place on campus. I wonder how in 3 years someone can complete 60 hours AND a dissertation (which took me 18 months after coursework to write and defend, and I am not alone)? But I really worry about online programs that have no practicum or internship requirements. I see this omission in undergrad teacher ed programs that are all online. I wonder how someone will manage to become a teacher without being IN a public school classroom. I worry that we graduate folks with a degree and not one iota of a clue about how they will interact with real kids in an actual classroom.

I pause, I wonder, and I worry. And so should you.
 
 
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