Virtual Voices: Online Teachers‘ Perceptions of Online Teaching Standards and Competencies




Smith, Robin Davidson

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This study addressed questions related to online teachers' perceptions of the tasks actually performed in their online teaching practice and the relevance of online teaching standards published in 2006 by the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and National Education Association (NEA). There were four research questions: 1. How do online teachers rate the importance of specific existing online teaching standards to their online teaching practice? 2. How do online teachers rate the frequency of use of specific knowledge and skills to their online teaching practice? 3. How do online teachers rate the importance of specific knowledge and skills to their online teaching practice? 4. According to online teachers, what are the most effective ways to prepare and support online teachers? This mixed methods study consisted of an online survey of 49 online teachers from 4 online schools and interviews with 2 teachers from each school, 1 humanities teacher and 1 math/science, a total of 8 interview participants. The online survey had 3 parts: demographics, including preparation for online teaching; the frequency with which online teachers performed and the importance to their teaching practice of 76 teaching tasks, and the importance of the 2006 SREB and NEA online teaching standards. The 76 tasks were based on the SREB (2006) Standards for Quality Online Teaching and the NEA (2006) Guide to Teaching Online Classes. Overall, participants reported both sets of standards as being important, but teachers from all schools found the NEA standards to be of slightly more importance to their online teaching practice. The 76 teaching tasks were separated into five categories: written communication, pedagogy, technology use, course design, and course management. Clearly, teaching roles were not the same for all online teachers in this study. Their responses to the standards and to the frequency and importance of tasks were colored by their individual roles, which varied according to the course model used by their online schools. Participants reported the need for experience as an online learner, specific professional development before online teaching, and ongoing professional development directed at increasing levels of expertise. In addition, participants reported a need for recognition of the validity, complexity, and time-consuming nature of their online teaching as well as equity in pay and benefits.



Online, Teaching, Standards, Competencies, Online teachers