FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Loyola’s School of Education Pilots Online Teacher Education
CHICAGO, May 4, 2004 This summer, Loyola University Chicago will join Marquette University, Milwaukee, and St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, in piloting an innovative online program designed to train secondary school teachers. Through the program, students can obtain a master’s degree in education (M.Ed.) as well as Illinois secondary teacher certification (grades 6-12).
Marquette’s School of Education initiated the program in response to the “No Child Left Behind” act, which seeks to ensure that classrooms are staffed with highly qualified teachers. In particular, the program is designed to help recruit, train and retain teachers in the areas of greatest need-both academic and geographic.
“The idea was to develop an accelerated program for people who already have bachelor’s degrees and are moving into teaching from other fields,” said Janet Pierce-Ritter, associate dean, School of Education, and the project’s coordinator at Loyola. “The flexibility of online learning will allow students to get the education background they need without quitting their current jobs.”
The program is aimed at increasing the number of teachers who come from minority backgrounds who plan to teach in content areas of high need such as math and science, or are willing to work in communities where the teacher shortage is most severe.
The degree requirements for the online M.Ed. are the same as for a traditional M.Ed.: students must complete 33 semester hours, comprising nine classes and a semester of student teaching. However, students who select the online delivery model will take seven of their classes online, in a specific sequence. The remaining two classes must be taken on campus. “The online students will take all of the same courses and receive the same degree as traditional M.Ed. students,” said Pierce-Ritter. “It’s just a different delivery model.”
The online sequence of courses takes five consecutive semesters to complete, including summer terms and a full semester of student teaching in a school setting. The two on-campus classes can be taken at a time convenient to the student.
Full-time Loyola faculty will teach the online courses, adapting their classroom materials to an online format and matching syllabus content with that used by Marquette and St. Joseph’s faculty to ensure consistency across the project.
Judith Hayn, an assistant professor of curriculum, instruction and educational psychology at Loyola, is adapting her course in Middle School Curriculum and Teaching for the online program. She’s excited by the advantages the format offers for both professor and student. “When I teach the course in a classroom, I normally have 40 to 50 students. So the online course will be a lighter load,” she says. “It will also allow us to offer the class in a semester when it might not normally be scheduled.”
A pilot group of five students will begin coursework this summer, and two Loyola cohorts of 15 students each will begin in the fall and next summer. After an introductory, face-to-face meeting at the start of the program, students will participate in most class activities via the Internet. “The online learning option allows students to plug into class from home and work at their own pace,” said Pierce-Ritter. “But they’ll also connect with each other online-interacting with instructors, sharing ideas and collaborating on class projects.”
Hayn, who said she’s looking forward to working from multiple settings, also plans to bring her online students together in person periodically. “The research on online education shows that you must build in face time-an opportunity for students to come to a central location, get to know you and each other-every few weeks or once a month, for the program to be successful.”
Online students will also have opportunities to obtain clinical experiences-for example, participating in after-school tutoring, attending school board meetings, observing classroom activities, and conducting small-group and whole-class instruction.
However, Pierce-Ritter notes that distance education isn’t for everyone. “We encourage potential applicants to consider carefully whether they’re suited to online learning,” she said. “In addition to having regular access to an Internet-connected computer, students need to be self-motivated and self-disciplined. They have to be willing to set aside nine hours a week for each online course-18 hours a week for summer session courses-and be able to communicate effectively through writing.”
At the completion of the pilot project, the School of Education will evaluate the results and determine whether to offer the online program on an ongoing basis.
For more information about the online M.Ed. program, visit www.luc.edu/schools/education/degree/master/online,or contact Pierce-Ritter at 312.915.6878.
About Loyola University Chicago
Committed to preparing people to lead extraordinary lives, Loyola University Chicago was founded in 1870 and is among the largest of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States. Loyola has a total enrollment of more than 15,000 students, which includes 10,000 undergraduates hailing from all 50 states and 82 foreign countries. The University has four campuses: three in the greater Chicago area and one in Rome, Italy. Loyola also serves as the U.S. host university to the Beijing Center for Chinese Studies in Beijing, China. Loyola’s nine schools and colleges include arts and sciences, business administration, education, graduate studies, law, medicine, nursing, professional studies, and social work. Loyola offers 69 undergraduate majors, 77 master’s degrees, 36 doctoral degrees, and three professional degree programs. Recognizing Loyola’s excellence in education, U.S. News and World Report has ranked Loyola consistently among the “top national universities” in its annual publications. For more information, please visit our web site at www.luc.edu.