But are teacher preparation programs offering the kind of training that tomorrow's teachers will need?
Accredited online teacher education programs are popping up throughout the country. Adjunct online teaching jobs are increasing in numbers. Western Governors and Phoenix University may be the biggest names in online teacher education, but many state schools are beginning to offer online courses, too. (E.g. at USC.)
The simple reason is that schools must meet the demands of modern students.
Yet the old model of teacher preparation prevails. Education majors now being trained for the traditional classroom may end up teaching in a virtual environment.
New markets are creating online teaching jobs, even while traditional brick and mortar training programs churn out new teachers.
And meeting the needs of students in an online classroom is not at all like the old model for schools.
What are the new demands and challenges facing online teachers?
First, online teachers must facilitate student-to-student communication. It's not about the lecture anymore. Students won't sit for an hour listening to a professor and another two hours reading a textbook. They need to feel connected to peers, even if fellow students are half a world away.
So online teaching is more than pod-casting a lecture or publishing texts in PDF format.
Online students demand video conference calls, student generated wiki's, blogs, and nings, real-time Twitter feeds. These are the technologies that connect students to other students, and that is the key ingredient for a successful online educational experience.
Second, education is no longer about acquiring knowledge. It's about solving problems. The success of online teaching employment rests in educators' ability to pose problem-based learning opportunities that motivate students to collaborate. Online teaching certification programs must begin to prepare teachers for this kind of work.
Modern students have the whole world's collective knowledge at their fingertips. They crave collective action toward solving real problems. The rest they can look up on the vast and growing data bases available on the web.
So when are online universities going to start preparing teachers for our online schools?
Learn more about finding online teaching employment. The best online programs need teachers who are prepared to succeed with today's tech-savvy and demanding students.