The Virtual Teacher Training Center: A One-Year Program to Transform Subject-Matter Experts into Licensed Career and Technical Education Teachers

Publication February 2002

The Virtual Teacher Training Center proposed within this paper relies on two major foundations; a flexible, dynamic re-configurable teacher education program of 27–33 credits that can be completed within 1 academic year, and is designed to train persons with industry and field experience into educated and licensed CTE teachers. The second major foundation of the proposed program is the usage of Internet technology to deliver the program to potential teachers in their homes and communities, while they continue engaging in practical experience and student teaching near their homes with cooperating or master teachers.

A Virtual Teacher Training Center is a viable and effective way to transform subject-matter experts into licensed secondary-level career and technical teachers. By subject-matter experts, I mean individuals who already have at least the basic knowledge of the subject area—either through education, practical experience, or industry and professional trade licenses. What they are lacking is knowledge of teaching, management of the educational environment, and practical experience in the classroom, including student teaching. At the conclusion of such training, the new career and technical education teacher would be eligible for a license to teach in middle, secondary, or postsecondary schools. Advanced academic training is not a prerequisite, but is not precluded as a subsequent goal after the new teacher has begun a teaching career.

The solution provided by the Virtual Teacher Training Center could quickly and efficiently prepare career and technical education teachers for the classroom—in less than 1 academic year. This 1-year program is not degree-dependent and could exist alongside longer academic teacher education programs, serve as a precursor to them, or serve as a continuation of academic work. The proposed 1-year program could provide a bridge between practical experience and advanced academic training, creating an alternative path for trained and experienced workforce specialists. Using web-delivered instruction, such a program could provide potential career and technical education teachers with academic opportunities to synthesize their work-based experience with knowledge of education and its pedagogy (see Figure 1).

The Virtual Teacher Training Center could also reach populations that, for reasons of economy, time, or distance have not enrolled in traditional teacher preparation programs. Such a program does not preclude more extensive academic training; it just does not make that training a prerequisite to teacher education and licensure for experienced professionals.

The proposed center falls between the two historical extremes for training teachers—school-based apprenticeship directed and supervised by classroom practitioners, and the protracted and elaborate regimen of academic instruction offered by colleges and universities that require an extended period of time to gain advanced degrees.

The Virtual Teacher Training Center can provide a training arena where career and technical teacher education and licensure are not reliant upon the usual connection to either an undergraduate or graduate degree program. Courses and experience from traditional and nontraditional sources could be applied as verification of subject-matter knowledge acquisition. Sources could be:

  • 2-year community college subject matter content,
  • training and experience in trades with union affiliation and instruction,
  • trade schools that focus on career and technical subject training,
  • workshops that function as specialized enhancement training,
  • on-the-job training from industries that provide detailed training to employees,
  • courses offered by industry training programs in specialist areas,
  • satisfactory completion of skill sets established by skills standards for professional technical educators,
  • others.

A web-based delivery system has greater capability than any brick-and-mortar classroom to reach students who would be teachers with career and technical content knowledge gained in the workplace, from vocational sources, or from a combination of academic and vocational experience. These are generally older students, often site-bound by jobs and family responsibilities, who may or may not already have academic training in their subject areas, but who do have extensive practical experience. These are people who have worked in their specialty areas long enough to have advanced beyond entry-level skills, to supervisory and managerial levels. These are also students who may be living in remote or isolated areas where (a) schools have a scarcity of career and technical teachers, and (b) where no colleges or universities are located—both necessary elements for traditional teacher training.

Twomey, S. M. (2002, February). The virtual teacher training center: A one-year program to transform subject-matter experts into licensed career and technical education teachers. Columbus, OH: National Dissemination Center for Career and Technical Education.

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