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Is Online Alternative Teacher Certification The Best Way to Become A Teacher?

Becoming A Teacher

Micah Fikes
Micah Fikes on November 30, 2018

The term “online” is so associated with the Internet that we assume it was coined in the 21st century, but a little dictionary digging tells us that “on line” was born in the 19th century as way for railroad workers to signal via telegraph.

One signal meant there was a “train on line” and the opposite meant “line clear” … important distinctions to avoid trains colliding!

Nowadays, “online” simply means you are connected to the digital world, where we can do just about everything from shopping to banking to even dating.

Online training has become a key cog of alternative teacher certification programs. This is especially true in Texas, where more than 50 percent of new teachers are coming out of alternative certification programs. Some providers even offer training that is completely 100 percent online.

Of course, not everybody is a fan of forsaking brick-and-mortar in-person classroom teacher training, as the reality is that most teachers are heading into real-world classroom settings where they will have to teach students face-to-face.

For many learners, online is not the preferred method with a national study of 1,000 students finding that 78 percent found it easier to get instruction in the classroom instead of online. 

We aren't suggesting a Luddite lifestyle or that you should burn your Amazon Prime membership card, but that you should examine the advantages and disadvantages of online alternative certification before choosing a program.


Advantages of Online Alternative Certification

online alternative teacher certificationTexans have strong opinions about having a freedom of choice, and online teacher certification programs open up a wide variety of programs and courses that maybe aren't traditionally offered in your neck of the woods. 

Advantages include:

  • Course availability: Online learning throws the gates wide open to courses and programs because it takes the distance from you to the educational institution out of the equation. You can live in the El Paso area and easily take an online course from a program in the Houston area. In the real world, you would spend the entire day just driving from east Texas to west Texas.
  • Comfortable learning environment: Nobody is saying you should take classes in your PJ's. But, hey, you can if you want to when it comes to online instruction. You control the thermostat, noise level, time of day or night when you log on versus a set classroom environment.
  • Flexibility and convenience: Since you are calling the shots of when you go online, you have flexibility of when to do your instruction.  
  • Tune out the distractions: Brick-and-mortar learning can have its distractions from acoustical nightmares to thermostats out of control. Online you control the environment. 
  • Keep your day job: Unless you are Johnny Paycheck and ready to tell your current employer "take this job and shove it ..." then you still need to keep working as you complete your alternative teacher certification. And, online allows you to do that as you can work around your 9-to-5 schedule.
  • Park your car in the garage: Many of us think the best commute in the world is that one from your bedroom to your home office. Kiss "road rage" good-bye when you learn online.


Disadvantages of Online Alternative Certification

There is a reason that those students surveyed said they like the old school chance to put an apple on the teacher's desk. Here are the disadvantages of online alternative certification: 

  • Lacks face to face interaction: Teaching is about making a connection with your students and online learning prevents you from making such a connection with your alternative certification instructors.
  • Questions Unanswered: Try raising your hand in an online course, and we bet the instructor won't see it. In person, you can get a question answered immediately and that facilitates the learning process. 
  • Personalization not possible:  Part of the joys of in-classroom work is the opportunity to work in groups, bouncing ideas off other students. Online you will miss this aspect of learning.
  • Learn by doing: Completing exercises in the in-person training allows you to practice before becoming a teacher.
  • Missing networking and friendship opportunities: When in-person training is done right, it can build professional and social relationships that will last a lifetime.


Which is the Best Way to Become A Teacher?

At ECAP, we have a lot of experience and done a lot of thinking on this topic. We think that a combination of online and in-person training is the right way to go. That is why we offer both.

It is important to find an alternative certification program that offers a combination of online and in-person training, so you will have best of both worlds with the flexibility of online training and the much-needed face-to-face interaction of in-person instruction.

The state of Texas appears to agree, as the Texas Education Agency is looking at possibly requiring alternative teacher certification programs to offer both next year. 


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Topics: Becoming A Teacher

Written by Micah Fikes

Micah is the Director of Curriculum & Technology. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in British Literature, from the University of North Texas and a Master of Arts in Teaching, from Louisiana College. In his previous career, Micah served for 14 years as a banker and bank manager. For the majority of this period, Micah managed the Downtown Fort Worth location of Frost Bank. In 2005, Micah finally surrendered to his true calling to be an educator. After a brief, but fulfilling term teaching high school English at Flower Mound High School in Lewisville ISD, Micah went to work for the family business, training teachers.

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