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UW-Oshkosh starts virtual student teaching program

  • Associated Press
  • December 26, 2013 - 10:00 AM

OSHKOSH, Wis. — When other student teachers were leaving for school this fall, Mike Wilbert was logging on to a computer.

Wilbert was the first volunteer for a virtual student teaching program launched this year by the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Oshkosh Northwestern Media reported (http://oshko.sh/JtOLeF ). He spent nine weeks teaching online, followed by nine weeks of traditional, in-person student teaching.

"I love new experiences and trying new things out, for better or worse," said Wilbert, 31, who graduated in December after finishing his student teaching. "I thought it was a good concept, and it posed some good opportunities for future classrooms."

UW-Oshkosh began developing the program after some virtual teachers spoke to professor Stacey Skoning's special education methods class.

"We know we have students who leave the program (at UWO) and wind up teaching in virtual programs, so we want to make sure we meet the need," Skoning said.

Wisconsin has 28 virtual charter schools with more than 6,700 enrolled, according to DPI. Many school districts also offer online classes.

In Oshkosh, for example, online classes are available to students in all the middle and high schools.

"We're incorporating this into our existing systems. We envision a continuum ranging from the straight, traditional classrooms to the completely virtual. But, most will be somewhere in the middle, where teachers will grab parts of virtual learning when it makes sense," Deputy Superintendent Dave Gundlach said.

For that reason, applicants with experience in both online and traditional teaching will stand out, Gundlach said.

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