Classroom Technology

USC Brings Its Own Brand to Online Offering for Teacher Prep

By Stephen Sawchuk — October 08, 2013 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Of new entrants to the online teacher-preparation market, among the most visible is the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education. Since 2009, more than 3,600 prospective teachers have enrolled.

To an extent, its success is the product of a series of fortuitous events. One was the arrival, in 2000, of Rossier Dean Karen Symms Gallagher, who wanted to move USC’s small, somewhat marginalized undergraduate teacher education program to the graduate level and expand it. USC’s stated mission for teacher preparation is to improve urban education nationally and globally, and at just 50 teachers a year, “we were clearly not even meeting local needs,” Ms. Gallagher said.

Then, she was introduced to John Katzman, the founder of a technology company that came to be known as 2U. He pressed her to consider an online iteration of the newly formed Masters of Arts in Teaching degree.

Online Teacher Preparation
Online Teacher Prep Proliferates, But For-Profits Dominate Market
Education Researcher Moves Into Certification Business
USC Brings Its Brand To Online Offering For Teacher Prep.
Bank Street College Aims to Retain ‘Essence’ in Virtual Program

Ultimately, a partnership emerged: Mr. Katzman agreed to invest in the building of a customized, online platform for Rossier and to endow a faculty position, while Rossier would continue to select high-quality candidates. Faculty advising the project insisted on a platform that would be fully interactive and that could record online interactions for future research.

Enrollments Rising Steadily

The ambitious endeavor was nevertheless a gamble for a research institution.

“What we really brought to the partnership was our brand, and USC’s behind it,” Ms. Gallagher said. “We are investing our reputation.”

Enrollments have risen steadily. In fact, they have helped to shield Rossier from the steep decline in enrollments in teaching programs in California. The online MAT has also affected other traditional structures: Full-time faculty who teach in the MAT program and aren’t located in Southern California work under contracts based almost entirely on their teaching duties.

It also has injected transparency into whether what’s taught lines up with the program’s goals. “Everyone can share with each other how they’re helping students learn,” said Melora Sundt, the vice dean of academic programs at Rossier. “MAT faculty are much more comfortable with the review of their own instruction and feedback.”

The changes here have not always been comfortable for all. Some view the program’s rapid expansion as overly corporate.

“People will say, ‘It’s about the money.’ I always say, well, it better be—we’re a private institution,' " Ms. Sundt said. “It is about our mission, but it feels yucky to some faculty members that you also have to consider the financial model for the program.”

On the other hand, participating faculty say teaching online has led them to experiment.

“Oftentimes as professors it’s hard to relinquish control, and this format forces you to,” said Corinne E. Hyde, an assistant professor of clinical education. “If you get up in front of these students and lecture them, they’re going to be on Facebook in 15 minutes. You’re forced to really be on your toes, grab their attention, and hold it.”

Related Tags:

Coverage of policy efforts to improve the teaching profession is supported by a grant from the Joyce Foundation, at www.joycefdn.org/Programs/Education. Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
From Chaos to Clarity: How to Master EdTech Management and Future-Proof Your Evaluation Processes
The road to a thriving educational technology environment is paved with planning, collaboration, and effective evaluation.
Content provided by Instructure
Special Education Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table - Special Education: Proven Interventions for Academic Success
Special education should be a launchpad, not a label. Join the conversation on how schools can better support ALL students.
Special Education K-12 Essentials Forum Innovative Approaches to Special Education
Join this free virtual event to explore innovations in the evolving landscape of special education.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Classroom Technology 4 Things to Know About AI's 'Murky' Ethics
Teachers and high school students see plenty of ethical gray areas and potential for long-term problems with AI.
4 min read
Highway directional sign for AI Artificial Intelligence
Matjaz Boncina/iStock/Getty
Classroom Technology AI Features Are Coming to iPhones and Macs. What It Means for Schools
AI writing assistants and a calculator that can solve complex equations are some of the features that could have implications for teachers.
3 min read
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an announcement of new products on the Apple campus in Cupertino, Calif., on June 10, 2024.
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an announcement of new products on the Apple campus in Cupertino, Calif., on June 10, 2024.
Jeff Chiu/AP
Classroom Technology Opinion I Was an AI Optimist. Now I’m Worried It’s Making Teacher Burnout Worse
When ChatGPT first gained popularity, I thought it would help educators. We still have a long way to go to live up to that promise.
Priten Shah
4 min read
Image of a vision with AI and lots of sticky notes showing things "to do" before teachers can harness the power of it.
Laura Baker/Education Week via Canva