PBS TeacherLine: Online Solutions for Teachers
by Diane S. Kendall
Long known for its quality programming and resources that educators love to use, PBS now offers a national program of online courses for teachers. Called TeacherLine, the courses span the curriculum from reading to math to science to instructional technology. Courses in instructional strategies are also in the PBS catalog.
Teachers sign up for courses by going to the TeacherLine site where they can join local or nationally sponsored courses. Most courses are delivered over a six-week period from local PBS affiliates and the National PBS TeacherLine portal. The fee for courses is generally $150, with an additional charge for graduate credits. A number of school districts partner with local PBS affiliates to offer courses that are especially designed to fit local needs. Course credit is offered by Adams State College (http://www.adams.edu) in Colorado. Be sure to check the TeacherLine site (http://www.pbs.org/teacherline) for specifics about courses, district partnering and college credit.
Beside the obvious benefits of learning online such as the convenience of taking a course when you want and not having to drive to a college campus, PBS offers teachers courses that include interaction with other educators through discussion boards and chat sessions. Participants have access to PBS' online resources and to their own workspace online. In the workspace, teachers can keep a journal, a portfolio, bookmarks, etc. PBS also provides what is termed "Situational Learning," which is learning concepts taught in the course and then practicing the application of these concepts in the classroom. Teachers who have taken TeacherLine courses say they are both fun because of the interaction and also because they can learn in their own way in their own time.
The list of courses features reading courses that stress phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary, text comprehension, technology integration, and reading in the content areas. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) standards addressed in courses include number and operations, algebra, data analysis and probability, geometry, measurement, and communications along with applying NCTM principles, fostering collaboration and discussion in critical thinking, equity, etc. A few of the other courses in the 2004/2005 catalog are: Scientific Inquiry and Field Work, The Classroom Computer as a Learning Station, Enhancing Multicultural Education with Technology, and Fostering Cooperative Learning, Inquiry, and Critical Thinking in Elementary Science.
For those interested in technology in-service, PBS offers a TeacherLine/ISTE (International Society for Technology Education) Certificate. To be awarded this certificate, course participants engage in an in-depth study of how technology improves teaching and learning, network with leaders in technology education throughout the nation, and prepare a portfolio that demonstrates proficiency in use of technology in the classroom. With many school systems requiring teachers to know how to use technologies effectively in their classrooms, this course is a popular one because it helps teachers keep up with the developments in the tech field.
TeacherLine was funded by a Ready to Teach grant from the U.S. Department of Education to provide standards- and research-based online professional development for teachers. At this writing there were 80 facilitated courses taught by highly qualified educators who are certified in the subject and grade areas they teach. TeacherLine courses help to fulfill the teacher quality provision in the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. Courses and programs were developed in association with organizations including the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), the University of Indiana, Tom Snyder Productions, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), and Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning (MCREL).
If you'd like to try a demo course to experience what taking a PBS online course is like, go to: http://teacherline.pbs.org/teacherline/modules/learning_online.cfm. There you can take the free, two-hour course, Practice Learning Online with TeacherLine. The practice course is designed to introduce you to and prepare you for online learning. It focuses upon the nature of PBS' online courses, strategies for success, getting help online, contacting national and local TeacherLine staff, and resources available through TeacherLine. There's also a syllabus in PDF format that you can download.
For more information on PBS courses and services:
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