Source: Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 17(4), 459-477. (October 2009)
Virtual Schooling (VS) for K-12 school students using distance technologies has increased rapidly in the 21st century with the growth of online learning and virtual schools in more than 44 states in the USA and as e-learning in over 20 clusters of rural schools in New Zealand.
Although VS requires a special set of teaching methods, teacher preparation programs are only beginning to include this new mode of schooling and it is important to develop VS field experience.
This article describes a pilot VS field experience within an initial teacher education program in the USA as part of a national project, including multimedia appendices.
This field experience enabled future teachers to observe how an exemplary VS school teacher taught her course using blended technologies.
Future teachers’ reflections revealed that they had overcome concerns and misperceptions about VS.
Key elements identified include mirroring the natural setting using similar technologies, external and internal information gathering, guided observations and engagement with the class.
Plans to expand this provision across the USA and in New Zealand provide an international perspective on preparing future teachers for the increasing range of educational opportunities in the 21st first century.