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Education Week profiles Rossier Online MAT program

October 14, 2013

education week logoEducation Week’s Stephen Sawchuk reported on the success of Rossier’s online/blended MAT program. Sawchuk, who sat in on several Rossier Online MAT sessions in two different courses, wrote that institutions that have been providing for-profit online teacher preparation programs are being joined by brick-and-mortar universities such as USC.  He noted that unlike most online programs, USC has chosen to deliver online preparation in real-time via a platform developed by 2U. This allows for a greater connection with students, such as faculty member Corinne Hyde described:

“Virtual interaction… makes it really possible to build those connections,” she said. “Oftentimes, I feel like I know my students a lot better, because I’m seeing into their homes.”

Sawchuk said that the real-time online platform allows for flexibility not found in a traditional classroom. He said that Assistant Professor Eric Bernstein uses the platform to quickly separate students into smaller breakout discussions and then bring them back together, something that he couldn’t do in a big lecture hall. He also sometimes uses a silent-discussion tool to draw out shy students.

“We’re going to mix it up,” Mr. Bernstein told the aspiring teachers. “And what you want to do in your classroom is mix it up and provide different types of opportunities for students to engage.”

USC and 2U have built a network of 1,800 school districts which provide student-teaching opportunities for candidates. Connor Nesseler, who teaches junior high in San Diego, appreciated being able to put theory into practice:

“I had to first develop a lesson, introduce it [at school], and deliver it, and come back and reflect on it,” he said. “Professors would tell us to create it, experience it, and then we’d move from there [to] how to improve.”

With USC Rossier having 22 clinical professors, one tenure-track professor, and 165 adjuncts, Bernstein and Hyde say they don’t sense a fracturing in the faculty. They said the online platform actually improves opportunities to collaborate. Dean Karen Symms Gallagher said that’s a good thing:

“If you say you have a common course, you have to make sure every professor is following it,” Dean Gallagher said. “It is easier to know that online. And students will tell you.”

Rossier has graduated over 1,700 individuals from its online program, placing it among the top 30 producers of education degrees.

RELATED: Sawchuk wrote an accompanying sidebar article about the development of Rossier’s online program, titled “USC Brings Its Own Brand to Online Offering for Teacher Prep.”