Policy

Happiness Is a Warm Body on the Other End of the Computer

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qualified teacher

As online education creeps into the headlines, some states are rushing to demand additional credentials from online teachers. As with all occupational licensing regulations, demanding that teachers complete year-long courses, approved professional development courses, and other state-selected training means locking would-be online teachers out, and making sure that teachers who are certified have been trained in a particular way of thinking. Here's a perfect "missing the point" quote from EdWeek:

"We can put any warm body on the other end of the computer, but are those kids going to learn?" said Christina Linder, the director of certification and professional standards at the Idaho Department of Education. "Based on what we know, no."

The thing that makes online education so exciting is that a lot of what we know about effective teaching may no longer apply. Maybe having pools of cheap workers with a minimal skill sets coaching each kid individually from Bangalore is better than having one traditionally educated and qualified teacher for a classroom of 25. Maybe tomorrow's online teachers are getting all the training they need on Facebook today. Maybe the best teachers in the future won't be human beings at all. Nothing will slow the process of exploring these options more effectively than a bunch of state rushing to adopt mandatory teacher certification for online schools.

Education entrepreneur and blogger Tom Vander Ark says it nicely: "States are rushing to manage a set of inputs they don't understand with the historical monopoly tool of certification.  It's clear most of these hurdles will not add quality (just guaranteed work and revenue for state offices and colleges)."

Lots more on the forces slowing down online education here.