In 1997, the first cyber school was created in Pennsylvania. This school was a result of the closing of the Midland High School in Midland, PA. The students from that high school were to be sent to neighboring districts. The community and the school board members, however, wanted to find these students another option. They discovered that a PA cyber school could be created under the Pennsylvania 1997 charter school law. By 2009, the PA cyber charter school achieved AYP (Academic Yearly Progress) status.
Many school districts are beginning to include cyber schools on their campuses. These “schools within schools” are providing students with alternatives whenever it comes to academic preparation as well as opportunities to enrich talents linked with the fine arts. Most recently, school districts like Seneca Valley School District in Butler County have added the performing arts to their online teaching programs within the district (http://senecavalley.schoolwires.net/domain/1102).
There can be issues regarding online learning. One such issue involves teacher preparation. A paper published in Educational Technology, 2004, by Greg Kearsley (independent consultant who designs and teaches in online programs) and Robert Blomeyer (senior program associate at NCREL and program director for the online teacher certification program) stated that excellent classroom teachers do not always satisfy the demanding requirements linked with online teaching. They believe that an effective online teacher must be able to “enjoy one-on-one interaction as opposed to lecturing or group presentations.” They also went onto say that the online teacher must be “flexible in teaching approach and willing to experiment”.
As more districts begin to include online learning as a component of their educational systems, they begin to search for teachers who are trained to utilize technology effectively. Whether the need for such teachers be in cyber schools and/or in blended learning classrooms (combination of face to face classroom methods with computer-mediated activities to form an integrated instructional approach), it is important that teacher preparation include online teacher training.
Note: Saint Vincent College provides education majors with online teacher training which is included in Field Experience I. For more information go to:
Other interesting links:
(Seneca Valley Cyber School)
(PA Cyber School)
Donna Hupe teaches ED 101 – Field Experience I and has been a Pre-Student Teacher/Student Teacher Supervisor at Saint Vincent College for the past five and a half years.