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New Graduate Document Enables Certified Teachers to Lead Online K-12 Courses

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – JUNE 9,  2014 – The University of Texas at Brownsville will offer beginning this fall an online Graduate Document of Completion in Online K-12 Instruction enabling certified teachers to teach online courses and build a bridge toward a master’s in education degree in educational technology.

The graduate document will enable certified teachers to participate in UTB’s recent designation as an Approved Professional Development Provider by the Texas Virtual School Network. UTB is the third University of Texas System institution, after Arlington and Permian Basin, to join the TxVSN. The UTB College of Education’s goal is to have at least 15 students in the program for fall 2014.

Stacey Perkins, 43, is the first student enrolled to receive UTB's online Graduate Document of Completion in Online K-12 Instruction which enables certified teachers to teach online courses. She teaches at Hallsville Intermediate School in East Texas.Stacey Perkins, 43, is the first student enrolled in the program. She teaches at Hallsville Intermediate School in East Texas.
 

The TxVSN enables Texas kindergarten to 12th grade students to take online courses following Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills guidelines. The kinds of students that can take classes include those with special needs, in need of enrichment or are in an area with a limited number of course offerings.

“After the teacher successfully completes the certification program, they would apply to a school district, open-enrollment charter school or regional service center that would offer the courses,” said Dr. Kathy Bussert-Webb, Professor and Graduate Program Reading/Literacy Coordinator in the Department of Language, Literacy and Intercultural Studies in the College of Education.

The certified teachers will teach the students technological skills like downloading documents and photographs and online research along with class content.

“We need teachers who can teach online in a high-quality manner and this will help the College of Education to meet the needs of the 21st Century learner,” said Bussert-Webb. “Also, this will help the College of Education to recruit graduate students who can make a difference in the lives of children. Children who want to take courses not offered at their campuses and children who, for any reason, cannot attend a campus, can also benefit from having effective online teachers.”

The graduate document program already has its first student set to start this fall. Stacey Perkins, 43, of Longview is a MTA (Dyslexia) teacher at Hallsville Intermediate School in the Hallsville Independent School District. She has a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in English from The University of Texas at Tyler.

Perkins learned about the graduate document program from The University of Texas System Online Consortium.

UT Brownsville lecturer Lori Wells and professor Dr. Kathey Bussert-Webb on Thursday, Jun. 05, 2014 at a computer lab on campus. In the fall, UTB is offering an online Graduate Document of Completion in Online K-12 Instruction.UT Brownsville lecturer Lori Wells and professor Dr. Kathy Bussert-Webb at a computer lab on campus.
 

“My district is launching a virtual school in fall 2014, so if I am successful in this certification program, I might pursue teaching in that venue,” said Perkins. “However, I thrive on the daily face-to-face, small group interaction I have with my students and frankly, I can’t imagine giving that up. With that said, I have watched non-traditional education programs at the college level surge and am intrigued to see this trend now tracking down into the K-12 setting.”

The network is operated by the Region 10 Education Service Center in Richardson through a contract with the Texas Education Agency.

Classes developed for UTB’s document of completion are:

  • Diverse Learner Reading and Digital Literacies
  • Assessment Practices in Reading and Digital Literacies
  • Applications of Advanced Technologies in the PK-12 Classroom
  • Student Centered Learning Using Technology   

The College of Education’s Dr. Lori Wells, a Lecturer in the Department of Language, Literacy and Intercultural Studies, Dr. Janice W. Butler, an Associate Professor in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Innovation, and Bussert-Webb used International Association for K-12 Online Learning standards to develop the syllabi, class activities, readings and assessments for some of the courses. They also worked with Bussert-Webb on the TxVSN application process.

Texas certified teachers interested in the graduate document must have a 3.0 grade point average and apply to UTB’s Office of Graduate Studies for admission. Before they can teach online through the TxVSN, they must have their state teaching certification. Once they successfully complete the four required courses in the program, participants can teach online at any grade level and content area in which they are already certified.

For more information on the graduate certificate, contact the Graduate Studies Office at 956-882-6552 or graduate.school@utb.edu.​​​​
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