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Program Seeks To Improve Online Courses

December 10, 2010

online classA new program designed to help teachers improve online instruction is being tested at a state college system, contributing to the rapid growth of Web-based course offerings educators have witnessed in recent years.

The program, Professional Online Educator, is undergoing a seven-week pilot phaze that began in October at the Louisiana Community & Technical College System (LCTCS), eSchool News reported. Owned by educational publishing and technology company Pearson Learning Solutions, it aims to help teachers improve online instruction by teaching them how to use social media and other tools to communicate effectively with students. The program is expected to be available to educators nationwide in January 2011.

Tammy Hall, the director of academic services for LCTCS, said even instructors who prefer in-person classes should be well versed in online instruction. According to a survey of online programs published by the Sloan Consortium, enrollment in online college courses has risen by 21 percent within the last year, compared to a 2 percent overall increase in higher-education enrollment.

The report found that about 75 percent of colleges and universities have seen a spike in demand for online courses during the recession. In the fall of 2009, more than 5 million students were enrolled in at least one online class. In addition, three in 10 students now take at least one Web-based class.

"The way education is going in, technology is here to stay," Hall said. "And I think [educators] have recognized that fact."

The Professional Online Educator program shows teachers how to implement class activities and assignments on the Internet and includes suggested course syllabi for instructors who lack prior experience in online instruction.

"The continued growth of online learning, coupled with the federal goal of increasing the number of college graduates, highlights the need to fully prepare educators to teach effectively in this space," said CEO of Pearson Learning Solutions Don Kilburn in a press release.

The program's use is not restricted to educators in higher education, however. According to Campus Technology, the publishing and technology company is making the online tool available to K-12 schools as well.


Compiled by CityTownInfo.com Staff

Sources:

"Instructing online instructors," ecampusnews.com, December 9, 2010, Dennis Carter

"Pearson Launches Training Program for Online Educators," prweb.com, December 8, 2010

"Program Aims To Help Faculty Master Online Instruction," campustechnology.com, December 10, 2010, Dian Schaffhauser

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