Whether you're a new or seasoned teacher, you're probably familiar with the concept of continuing education, which is also referred to as professional development. Today we'll take a look at three ways to complete continuing education units online.
Continuing Education for Teachers
In the world of teaching, continuing education is crucial because it allows educators to strengthen their skills and stay on top of the latest teaching trends so that they can better serve their students. Although exact requirements vary from state to state, teachers are typically expected to complete a certain number of continuing education units every so often in order to maintain or renew their teaching licenses, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some teachers may also turn to professional development simply to advance their careers and gain new knowledge.
That being said, in today's hectic world and in between busy school days, it can often be hard to find the time to complete these continuing education units. Fortunately there are ways to do it online and from the comfort of your own home. Let's explore some of your options.
Online Continuing Education Options
One: Colleges or Universities
We already know that several brick-and-mortar colleges and universities offer online degree programs, so it's really not all that surprising that many of them also offer professional development options for teachers via the Internet. Although course offerings vary depending on the school, they usually focus on helping teachers meet requirements for continuing education, certification, licensure and higher-level degrees or certificates. Some common areas of study for these online courses include educational technology, classroom management, instructional strategies and support for special needs students. There are also courses in specific subjects such as English, math and science.
Since some of the online continuing education courses offered through colleges and universities are graduate-level courses, they may cost significantly more than some of the other options we'll discuss in this post. Additionally, the cost may depend on whether the courses are credit or non-credit. If you're interested in learning more about a college or university's online professional development offerings, along with information about registration, dates and cost, just check their websites. Keep in mind that online courses offered by universities may have specific start and end dates. This may be an important consideration if you are a very busy person.
Two: Continuing Education Providers
There are also companies that exist solely for the purpose of helping teachers earn continuing education units in an easy, no-fuss way. Most of them offer a wide variety of courses designed specifically for educators that can be completed totally online. Prices may vary depending on the course content and number of credits offered. However, some providers may offer special deals that let you take unlimited online continuing education courses for one year for a fixed price. Others may offer discounts for large groups (many teachers enrolled).
If you are only looking to take a few courses, that's fine too. Most companies offer them as standalone courses in many important, up-to-date subject areas. Once a course is completed successfully, a certificate will typically be emailed to you. The majority of continuing education courses offered through these types of places are available on-demand, unlike many of the courses at universities and colleges.
Three: Study.com and Other Resources
Beyond the universities and companies we discussed above, there are also other online resources that can help you get the continuing education you want and/or need to satisfy your district's requirements. For example, Study.com offers a vast library of online courses that are available in many subjects, such as health and education. These courses are comprised of short, engaging lessons that often use videos to make course content relevant and easy to understand. The prices are affordable, and the courses can be completed totally on your own time.
The last resource we're going to discuss here is the brainchild of veteran educator Laura Fleming. She created a digital professional development platform for educators that allows them to learn informally and earn virtual badges in return. Although the badges aren't actual continuing education units, you can still learn a great deal of useful information here. Her website also features several links to helpful resources if you're interested in learning more about the latest advances in the teaching profession.
Now that you've learned about several ways to complete your teacher continuing education units online, you should be able to decide which method will best fit your personal wants and needs. Perhaps a university is the way to go because you want to earn graduate-level credits that can be applied to a future degree. Or maybe you're perfectly content taking a more flexible, affordable route.
Whichever path you choose, please keep something important in mind - your state and district's continuing education requirements. Before enrolling in ANY course, please check with both your state's department of education and your school district to make sure that the courses you're looking at align with their standards. For example, some states and districts may only accept courses from certain providers, schools or companies. This way you'll avoid taking a course that won't result in credit where credit is due.