How might a shift to online education affect the current and future workforce of teachers?
Does our current workforce of teachers have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to effective teach online? Might teachers who are excellent at face-to-face teaching be pushed out of a job? Will we need to drastically retool how teacher education is handled?
Ouida Watson Myers commented
To support the blended learning environment, a well-educated technical staff will be essential. Is there a movement to bring the technical staff along as an important member of the team? Some charged with network support and security will have as big a leap, if not bigger, to support a drastically changed learning environment as teachers.
The trend is going to be blended or hybrid learning. I agree with Ms. Davis that the nurturing aspect of early elementary would be negatively impacted by total online education. However, we are seeing growth with online courses in elementary (Florida Virtual, Connections Academy, etc.) that are effective. The research from iNACOL (www.inacol.org) shows that a hybrid learning model (face to face coupled with online options) will be the biggest transformation for teachers. The current workforce will need to become steeped in Web 2.0 and online resources and how to teach "beyond the chalkboard" and allow students to use the technology to demonstrate skills. My biggest concern is how we begin to prepare new teachers for a drastically changing landscape in which the educational system itself isn't prepared to support just yet. I think the answer is retooling of current workforce and revisioning of what a 21st century teacher will be. Teachers will become facilitators of learning and still will be a vital part of the educational system.
Vicki Davis commented
To me, this is a great question. When we look at research released last year on effective kindergarten teachers - a warm caring relationship was the most important indicator of student success - more so than student teacher ratio (blogged this yesterday) and I think just online (unless a teacher is IN the classroom already) has some dangers!