Posted: Monday Aug 15, 2011
Saint Vincent College Education Department has announced the initiation of a new program that will both prepare its student teachers for the growing presence of cyber schools and give all Education students practical experience doing online tutoring with students in grades K to 12.
David Gilbert, coordinator of online instructional support for education, said the program would start this fall for seniors preparing to do their student teaching in the spring as well as for other undergraduates who are early in their preparation to be teachers.
“Online education is here – and growing!” Mr. Gilbert noted. “When we talk about online education or cyber schools, it basically refers to any educational instruction that occurs with the teacher and student at computers in separate locations outside of a traditional classroom setting.”
The Saint Vincent program will initially serve two groups. The first are senior Education majors who are enrolled in the Field Experience Pre-Student Teaching Practicum (ED400), preparing for student teaching in schools during the spring semester. These students will receive introductory training in the use of special software – Elluminate Live, part of the widely-used Blackboard educational software system – that allows users to set up highly interactive virtual classrooms where a teacher on one computer can communicate live with one or more students using voice, slide presentations, whiteboards, online documents, and other multimedia content. Education professors and students can also access the virtual rooms for teaching demonstrations, meetings and remote collaboration. Sessions can be recorded for sharing via the internet, allowing students and professors the opportunity to review sessions or provide feedback. “Familiarity with this software and its capabilities will help our seniors be better prepared for teaching positions in either traditional classrooms or in cyber schools,” Mr. Gilbert predicted. “It will be an impressive asset for them when they are seeking teaching positions and interviewing for employment.”
The second group that will participate in the program are undergraduate Education majors who will be able to use the program to prepare to do online tutoring of students from kindergarten to 12th grade. “These students will be getting instruction with it in the Early Field Experience courses (ED101, 102, and 103),” Mr. Gilbert said. “Subsequently, they will be offering online tutoring services in a variety of subject areas to grade school, junior and senior high school students throughout Westmoreland County as well as in other areas of western Pennsylvania.” This instruction will take place in a special campus classroom in the Robert S. Carey Student Center that is equipped with Macintosh computers so that students can become comfortable with both the software and the accessories it utilizes such as headphones and digital tablets.
Junior and senior high school students who seek online tutoring by the Saint Vincent students will include home-schooled students who may utilize it to supplement the instruction they receive at home. Mr. Gilbert will market the tutoring services which will be offered on a fee basis.
“This is a unique program that takes advantage of the latest technology,” Mr. Gilbert concluded. “It is one-on-one tutoring which educational research has confirmed is most effective. We will be able to offer all of the benefits of personal tutoring but with the convenience of being able to do it at home or wherever you are.”
Further details about the program and its services are available by contacting Mr. Gilbert in the Saint Vincent College Education Department, 724 805-2096.
Photo: David Gilbert