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Online Learning and Teaching Updates

To:Superintendents, Technology Directors, and Directors of Charter Schools and Educational Collaboratives
From:Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D.
Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education
Date:March 7, 2011


Online learning and teaching can be of tremendous benefit to students and teachers. In order for Massachusetts schools to provide quality online learning opportunities, I have asked the Board of Education's Educational Technology Advisory Council (ETAC) to advise us on best practices for online teaching, learning, and assessment.

Also, in order to ensure that Massachusetts educators are adequately prepared to teach online or in virtual schools, the Department is considering developing an educator licensure endorsement1 in the area of online instruction. As indicated in Massachusetts Recommended Criteria for Distance Learning Courses, educators teaching online courses should have the following qualifications:

  1. The online teacher is fully qualified in the content area being taught as a result of being licensed in the appropriate content area or is currently teaching undergraduate or graduate courses in the subject area.
  2. The online teacher has been trained and is skilled in the methods of teaching online which would include, but not be limited to, engaging students in discussion and collaboration and using the tools and technology to deliver a course online effectively.

We would welcome your thoughts on such an educator licensure endorsement.

In closing, I would like to remind you of the process to report educators and students who are involved with online courses. Currently, online teachers are reported in EPIMS the same way classroom teachers are reported.

Online course information is collected in the new Student Course Schedule Application (SCS). The online course is identified in SCS03 as being either an online K-12 course or an online college-level course. The course is further defined by subject area in SCS05 (Subject Area-Course). Information regarding the reporting of online courses can be found at:
SCS - Student Course Schedule.

Thank you for your help and collaboration.


Last Updated: March 7, 2011
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