Virtual Learning Quickly Becomes a Strong Focus in Pre-Service Teaching Programs 

 August 11, 2021

By  James Brauer

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COVID-19 has caused many changes to the education system, including how teachers must teach in various classroom environments–physical, digital, and hybrid classrooms.

Teacher Pre-Service Programs Updated

In the wake of the pandemic, many U.S teacher preparation programs incorporated digital tools, online instruction and focused on students’ mental and emotional well-being into their courses. The intent is to better prepare teachers for the modern learning environment, which includes more self-paced learning, independent study, virtual learning, and asynchronous opportunities to learn “any time, any place, anywhere.”

Despite the recent COVID-19 surge, seemingly affecting more youth, educators hope to teach in person as much as possible this year. However, experts agree that a focus on technology will be beneficial regardless of how things shake out with the virus and have already found ways to help them reach students effectively even if they’re absent from school all day long.

New Emphasis on Virtual Teaching and Virtual Learning

Teaching programs across the country are placing greater emphasis on virtual teaching and learning pedagogy.

Iowa’s Drake University took an innovative step forward by launching a course on “Best Practices in Online Instruction.”

Columbia University’s Teachers College officials adopted new tools and techniques to help students in this digital age. They say their graduates will continue to practice skills like designing a digital curriculum and engaging children through virtual or hybrid learning. Southern Methodist University has also been training its graduates with Google Classroom and evaluating educational technology. New York University instructors have updated lesson plans for optimal engagement using these technological advances to have a more engaging learning experience.

It’s Not Just How Pre-Service Teachers Teach, But Learn

Aspiring teachers in the United States are experiencing changes in what they learn and how.

Colleges have responded to school closings that prevented observation and teaching opportunities for K-12 students with different options such as watching videos of top teachers and virtual classroom instruction. It appears these new strategies may continue.

Despite the recent COVID-19 surge, it seems that many schools are still emphasizing face-to-face teaching and learning. However, the new focus on technology in schools will be beneficial. Teaching programs are making a more significant commitment toward redesigning their pre-service education programs to include more virtual teaching and learning pedagogy while also incorporating new tools and techniques for students in this digital age.

Overall, this is beneficial to the entire American system.

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James Brauer

James Brauer, Ed.D., MBA is currently Director of Graduate Education at Avila University. Previously he was a virtual school administrator of a public online school serving students throughout the state of Iowa. Brauer has also served as an assistant principal and special education teacher. He is passionate about leadership and management, health and wellness, and personal development.

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