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Is A Web Centric Alternative Certification Program Better?

Becoming A Teacher

Micah Fikes
Micah Fikes on August 29, 2023

If the allure of making a difference in young minds is calling you, you may find yourself at a crossroads … weighing the most effective path toward your aspiration of becoming an educator.


With the traditional route to teaching accompanied by time-intensive and expensive requirements, an increasing number of aspiring teachers are drawn toward alternative certification programs as a more streamlined and accessible option. 


Within this deliberation, a newer dimension has emerged: the choice between pursuing your Texas teacher certification in a virtual setting or opting for the traditional in-person experience. This important decision not only shapes your journey but also reflects the evolving landscape of education in an era where online platforms have redefined the boundaries of learning.


Yet for many, the traditional route of earning a degree in education or earning your teaching certification through in-person classwork is the preferred approach. 


Is a web centric alternative certification program right for you? Let’s dive into three choices for earning a teacher certification:


  1. College/university path
  2. Strictly online programs
  3. A hybrid approach to certification


College/University Path To Certification



Many current teachers chose a traditional path to earning their teaching license by attending a college or university and earning a bachelor’s degree inweb centric alternative certification program education. Teacher preparation programs are typically blended with university bachelor’s degree programs. That means college coursework incorporates state teacher credential requirements. 


Because alternative certification programs require that you have a bachelor’s degree before you can enroll in most cases, if you do not have a bachelor’s degree yet, this path may be the right choice for you. (The exception to this is if you enroll in an educator preparation program to earn a Health Science or Trade and Industrial Education (TIE) certification and you have qualifying work experience.)


Many colleges and universities also offer post-baccalaureate programs. These are designed for those who already hold a bachelor’s degree, but not in education. Participants in these programs complete credential requirements for a teaching certificate, but do so in a university setting and by enrolling in college coursework. 


However, it’s important to note that attending a college or university can be a significant investment. The average annual in-state college tuition in Texas for the 2021-2022 academic year was $11,718.


Strictly Online Programs



Imagine sitting in your pajamas, laptop open with a hot coffee next to you. If this sounds like the perfect way to complete your coursework to becomecertification a teacher in Texas, an online alternative teacher certification program may be for you. 


While no one is saying you have to take your courses in your PJs, there is something to be said about having a comfortable learning environment when you study. Other advantages of a 100% online certification program include:


Greater course availability: A college or other in-person certification program can limit what types of courses are available at that particular campus. When a program offers courses online, you have access to a great number of classes, allowing you to live in one area of the state and take a class offered in a completely different area.


Flexibility: Online course availability allows you to schedule your classes around other obligations. This is a great perk for individuals who have a full-time job, kids or other responsibilities that may make traveling to a campus to complete the certification process impossible.


Better time management: Especially if you live in a major metropolitan area like Houston or Dallas, it can often feel as though you spend just as much time in the car as you do at your destination. Web-centric courses allow you to cut out wasted time for commuting and focus that time on studying or other important life responsibilities.


Portfolio building: Online programs often involve project-based assignments and digital submissions for students to obtain their Texas teacher certification. These artifacts can contribute to building an impressive digital portfolio that showcases your skills and achievements to potential school districts.


However, there are some distinct disadvantages to enrolling in a web-centric alternative certification program. Online programs require a lot of self-discipline and effective time management skills to succeed in a more autonomous learning environment.


While these may not necessarily be disadvantages if you possess these skills, if self-discipline and time management is something you struggle with, it’s important to keep in mind that this learning structure may not be for you.


Other disadvantages of strictly online programs include:


A lack of face-to-face interaction: Teaching is about making connections and online learning can limit the number of face-to-face interactions you have. Even if you appear on a computer screen through a web-based meeting program, it’s still not quite the same as having that in-person interaction with classmates and your instructors.


A delay in your questions being answered: While some instructors are very quick to respond online, if you have an immediate question that needs answered in order for you to better understand a concept you are learning, you may need to wait for that answer. As you wait, you could be losing valuable studying time.


Group work is limited: One of the greatest benefits to onsite learning is the opportunity to work in groups and interact with other interns. Often, an online program has been designed for individual work rather than groupwork. Groupwork presents a great opportunity to bounce ideas off each other while getting to know your peers.


You’re missing networking opportunities: In addition to your peers, you’re missing out on opportunities to build professional relationships with your instructors. These networking opportunities are important when it comes time to look for a teaching position, as well as to learn from others who have already experienced the journey you’re about to embark on. 


A Hybrid Approach To Certification



So which type of program is better for you: A college degree or a teacher certification program that only offers online courses? The answer may lie someone in the middle.


Teaching credential programs that offer a combination of both online courses and in-person experience, like ECAP, can offer the best of both worlds. 


While online courses open up the possibilities for which classes you take, completing exercises in-person can provide invaluable practice for when you become a certified teacher. And while you can still benefit from the convenience and flexibility that web-centric programs offer, you can take full advantage of the networking opportunities and face-to-face interactions that come with in-person classes.


Alternative certification programs like ECAP can be significantly less expensive than enrolling in college courses as well. As we mentioned above, the average annual in-state college tuition in Texas for the 2021-2022 academic year was $11,718. 


At ECAP, there are no fees to apply, there is a $400 training fee (split over two months), and 10 monthly payments of $390 AFTER you are hired. That’s a total of $4,300 … less than half of what you would pay for ONE year of education at a Texas college.


However, the format of how classes are offered and cost aren’t the only qualities you should be focused on when choosing a teacher credential program. The best Texas teaching credential program should offer:


  • Test preparation NOT as a costly add-on
  • Experienced mentors or advisers who are former or current teachers
  • Personalized approaches to your training (you are not just a number)
  • A full-circled approach that incorporates training, testing and teaching
  • Friendly support staff to help you on your journey and to ensure you’re meeting your individual timeline for certification


The best programs also have an extensive network of relationships with Texas schools across the state. The goal of any teacher education program should be to put you at the front of a class once you’ve completed the required training and you’re ready for that next transition into the classroom. 


When teaching credential programs develop relationships with school districts, they are often the first to know about any openings, and many districts will even contact reputable certification programs to ask for recommendations of students to hire.


Not all teacher certification programs are the same, and whether you choose online, in-person or combination of both, it’s critical to select a program that is experienced, certified and cares about you and your future as a teacher. This will help to ensure your transition into the teaching field is smooth, efficient and successful.


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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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