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Why Online Teaching Degrees Aren’t Always Best

Teacher Training

Micah Fikes
Micah Fikes on January 30, 2019

In today’s digital world, the internet has revolutionized how we do business, how we communicate and how we accomplish daily tasks. Whether it’s shopping for our groceries, paying our bills or staying in the know, the internet has made many tasks far more convenient.

Education is among the areas that have evolved because of online access. Several colleges and universities across the country now offer some or all of their classes on the web. This allows students to begin coursework simply by logging on rather than going to a physical campus.

For students pursuing a career as a teacher, an online education degree certainly has its benefits. But, it can have its challenges as well. This means that it is an option that is not for everyone.

Despite the online convenience, here are some reasons why online teacher certifications aren’t always the best solution.


Discipline And Tech Knowledge Are Required


online teaching degreesSigning up for an online education degree program and completing it requires discipline on the part of the student.

Think of it like a gym. Some people are more likely to stay on a fitness regime by creating a regular schedule at the gym, rather than finding the motivation at home. Similarly, some students find more accountability when they are getting a professional education at an actual school location rather than doing coursework online.

Learners with poor study habits may fall behind. In addition, students who don’t possess the technology knowledge to take an online course may have difficulty as well. Though most teaching courses are accessible even for students with limited computer skills, some may still struggle with using the internet and computer software for every course.

Instructors also may not be available on the spot to assist with any problems as they would in the classroom.


Personalization Is Lacking


Though the curriculum and instruction may be similar between an online course and a course that offers face-to-face training, just about every other aspect is different. That may not be a drawback for some, but for those who enjoy interacting with other students and instructors, the lack of personalization can be a real disadvantage.

Here are some ways online teaching certification training differ from in-classroom training:

  • Face-to-face interaction: While convenient in many ways, online learning prevents face-to-face interaction between the instructor and the student. Though online video chat may be an option as part of the program, it doesn’t allow for the same type of connection that forms face-to-face.

  • Group work: Working with other students in a group is a great way to bounce ideas off other students. Even if an online program requires a student to work in a group setting, communication often is done by email, which lacks personalization.

  • Networking: In-person training through a teaching degree program or alternative certification program can help build professional relationships and friendships. And, these can become very important when it comes to school changes, job promotions and teacher support.

  • Support: Learning side-by-side with other students creates a sense of comradery and fosters support. In an online program, a student may feel isolated and not benefit from having classmates nearby for help, suggestions or encouragement.

Opportunity For Hands-On Learning


online teaching degreesTeaching programs that take place in a traditional classroom tend to have more opportunities for hands-on learning. This type of learning can be difficult to simulate online in a virtual classroom.

This is especially true when it comes time to work with younger students as part of the training process. In more traditional programs or some alternative certification programs, students may gain classroom experience as part of the curriculum.

There is no doubt that teachers who have had to get up in front of others in hands-on training are more comfortable and have better classroom management skills when they start their first teaching job.

It is important to review whether or not your certification program prepares you with hands-on training as part of their curriculum. This is especially true for alternative certification programs because some of them only offer online training. This puts you at a disadvantage in the classroom.

Costs May Not Fit A Budget


Many believe an online teaching degree is less expensive than taking classes on campus. However, that is not always the case. Costs should be researched thoroughly before committing to any type of teaching degree program.

Research conducted by U.S. News and World Report, in fact, found that online degrees typically are more expensive than paying in-state tuition at a public school. The analysis of about 300 programs showed that on a per-credit basis, in-state costs for an online bachelor’s program was on average $277 per credit hour. At brick-and-mortar schools, however, credit hours averaged around $243.

Researchers found, though, that online degrees were less expensive than traditional education at private schools and tuition for out-of-state students at public schools.

Tuition for any type of teaching degree - online or on campus - will vary by institution or program. That’s why it’s important to fully understand how many credit hours are required to complete the program and any associated costs, such as books, fees and other activities.

One of the advantages of alternative certification programs is that you pay an introductory fee to start training, and the balance is paid after you get a teaching job.

Bottom Line


There is little doubt that one student may benefit from an online program, while another may do better in a program with more hands on training. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Sometimes, a combination of online and in-person training is the best way to learn.

Finding a teaching certification or education degree program that offers the flexibility a student needs is important. A program that offers the flexibility of online training and the benefits of face-to-face interaction captures the best of both worlds, and is a great option for students.

For more information on the benefits of earning a teacher certification in a program that incorporates online and in-person training, read our article, Online vs. In-Person For Getting Texas Teacher Certification.

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Topics: Teacher Training

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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