Honors Senior Theses/Projects

Date of Award

6-1-2015

Department

Honors Program

Faculty Advisor

Marie LeJeune

Honors Program Director

Gavin Keulks

Abstract

Innovation as well as a desire for more may be seen as twin influences in the field of education today. Out of this dichotomy online education for grades K-12 has emerged. Its many forms include everything from “flipped classrooms” to online classes or homework that supplements conventional classrooms to completely online charter schools (Wolk, 2011). Just four years ago there were already state-wide virtual charter schools in 20 states. These schools were often funded through rulings by state legislatures (Watson, 2008). There is also a growing concern over whether the majority of teacher candidates will need to be ready to use online supplements or even to teach entirely online (Natale, 2011). Future educators may need to be skilled in meeting the needs of students through the online medium, which may or may not be substantially different from the skill set needed for a physical classroom. How does a teacher candidate become qualified to teach online effectively? What are universities doing to prepare undergraduate and graduate students for teaching online? What do administrators and principals of online schools look for in their teachers? What do the teachers themselves have to say about this new facet of the education job market? What about the views of the students themselves in how effective online teachers meet their needs? This study offers an overview of literature on virtual or online schools. Additionally, action research was conducted to interview various contributors to online education, including teachers, administrators, and college professors. The results of surveys and interviews conducted with hiring staff on online schools, online teachers, and university faculty of online education training in Oregon’s public education system are analyzed and reported as well.

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