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National Online Teacher Certification Program Announced

Online teachers, and eventually administrators, classroom teachers, librarians, and professional developers across the nation will be able to enroll in an educational technology national certification program that has the endorsement of national ed-tech advocates, under a new program announced Tuesday.

The Leading Edge Certification program, an effort founded by Mike Lawrence of the Walnut Creek, Calif.-based Computer Using Educators group that champions ed-tech causes throughout the state, is currently offering its certification for online teachers through alliance members that include the International Association of K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), as well as a couple dozen local- and state-level organizations, mostly from California.

The plan is to offer another credential to administrators beginning midway through 2012, and eventually create programs geared toward brick-and-mortar teachers and other educational staff. While the certification wouldn't act as an official endorsement on any state teaching license, Lawrence said it would mirror such programs as the Google Certified Teacher program, without the appearance of pushing a specific hardware or software maker.

"I think that's an important point to emphasize, that there's been no involvement by for-profit companies in this project at all," Lawrence said. "It's not something that is bent toward a platform or a tool or device."

The announcement follows a small movement toward certification programs throughout the ed-tech world. A few statessometimes with the help of in-state teachers colleges—have moved toward creating certifications for online teaching that would hold up as endorsements on state-issued teaching licenses.

Meanwhile, the Washington-based Consortium for School Networking is developing its own certification for district chief technology officers, envisioned as the CTO equivalent of credentials bestowed upon certified public accountants and project managers.

The Leading Edge Certification online teacher program will be offered through alliance members as a 6-8 week program that includes roughly 60 hours of study, at a cost of $450-500 per teacher, depending on which organization teachers use to receive instruction, Lawrence said. The iNACOL National Standards for Online Teaching serve as the program's content framework, according to a press release.

The program for administrators is still in development, but is likely to be a 35-hour course of study designed to be completed over a few weekends, according to Rowland Baker, director of the Santa Cruz, Calif.-based Technology Information Center for Administrative Leadership, who is leading the creation of the program for administrators.

The pair admit that, in its initial stages, the outreach may appear very California-centric. But Lawrence said he hopes the involvement of national groups like iNACOL and ISTE, as well as other state groups such as the New York State Association for Computers and Technology in Education, will help the program become a national brand.

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