University of South Florida Teaching Internship with a Virtual Twist
Don’t think that internships won’t help you out in the real world – at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida, the College of Education now provides online training so USF grads can learn new technology in addition to the traditional internship experience! We met up with Steve Sanders, Director of the School of Physical Education and Exercise Science, to give you the low down to this unique twist to the internship experience.
We’ve heard of internships before but we’ve never heard of a virtual teaching internship! What is it?
The College of Education at the University of South Florida has teamed with Florida Virtual Schools (FLVS) to provide our undergraduate teacher education students with practical experience in teaching middle and high school students online. Technology has certainly transformed the way we teach and learn. Giving our teacher education candidates the opportunity to learn to teach online will provide them with the knowledge and experience to effectively teach K-12 students in virtual settings. In the virtual internship our teacher education candidates are paired with certified teachers employed by FLVS and share in the responsibility of teaching high school students who are enrolled in FLVS online classes. The experience is similar to a typical face to face internship, the difference being instruction occurs online and not in the traditional school setting. Teacher education candidates plan lessons, communicate with students, and assist with assessment of learning, all online.
So – Education Majors learn how to teach online? This sounds pretty rare! How does this program work?
The virtual internship experience at USF is in addition to a traditional internship where students work face to face with students in schools. Virtual internships are rare and USF and FLVS have been pioneers in this effort. USF College of Education students first participate in a series of online modules introducing them to FLVS online systems. They are then paired with a cooperating teacher from FLVS, and the cooperating teacher assigns these beginning teachers to high school students to begin online instruction. University students communicate with their high school students daily and monitor progress, introduce new content, and assess learning. This process is supervised by a university professor and a FLVS cooperating teacher just as a traditional internship experience would be.
What USF majors have this opportunity?
Undergraduate teacher education students in physical education, foreign language, and master’s students in school counseling are currently piloting the program. Other subject areas will be added as the program moves forward.
How long does this virtual teaching internship last?
The length of the virtual internship experience varies depending on the teacher preparation program in which the student is enrolled. For example, students in physical education do virtual teaching with high school students who are taking the state required physical education course. Undergraduate physical education majors are scheduled to be involved with virtual coursework 8 hours each week during one semester. They participate in this experience along with other courses required during that semester. Those eight hours could be any time during the day based on the schedules of the high school students.
What skills does this program teach or enhance?
Teacher education candidates participate in a number of activities and experiences prior to and during the virtual internship. The list below includes a variety of activities and experiences undergraduate students participate in during virtual internships.
Online training about the learning management system that houses the courses and how to maneuver through the course shell
Elluminate training, assigning of individual Elluminate room/account and instruction on how to use, how to host live Elluminate sessions, how to upload a presentation, how to record, etc…)
The interns learn about the course they will assist in teaching via a course training module, which covers course content and course assignments
Interns grade student assignments and help the cooperating teacher with student assessment
Interns create lesson presentations and present the information in a live Elluminate tutoring sessions and also record the sessions in Elluminate
Anything else you’d like to add about this program?
In addition to our virtual internship experiences for undergraduate teacher preparation students, practicing teachers may enroll in the College of Education Virtual Digital Educator Certificate Program that we are offering on the graduate level beginning January 2011.
Anything else that our college bound students need to know?
As more and more middle and high school students take online courses those future teachers interested in competing in the teaching job market will find that having the skills and experiences to teach online will become crucial to employment. College bound students should make sure the university teacher preparation program they plan on attending includes instruction and experience in teaching online.