This fall, the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education will offer three degrees completely online: Two master of education degrees, in reading education and curriculum and instruction, and an education specialist degree in reading education.
“We will now be able to make our exceptional programs accessible to even more students regardless of their geography,” said Catherine Brighton, the school’s associate dean of academic programs.
For Stephanie Moore, assistant professor and online learning coordinator at the Curry School, access means an increasingly diverse learning community that benefits everyone.
“The Curry School’s expansion of online offerings reflects this core value of embracing diverse learner populations and needs,” Moore said. “It allows us to serve eligible students who may not be able to move for a degree, but who bring valuable experience and perspective into the learning environment.”
Among the nation’s leaders in researching effective teaching and curriculum development, faculty and administrators at the Curry School are taking unique measures to develop online courses that ensure the quality of instruction available in on-Grounds courses.
Teams of faculty members have worked with instructional designers to find ways to use technology to assist in productive learning. They are also limiting the size of the classes, admitting 20 to 25 students, the same as the in-person offerings.
“We focus on research-based design features in our online classes, such as rigorous instructional design, high degrees of interaction and feedback, and authentic activities that require students to apply content and develop skills,” Moore said.
Other efforts to ensure quality include monitoring evaluations, feedback and success after their coursework.
Launching the online degree programs is a culmination of years of work in online education. The Curry School already offers a variety of certificates and course series that lead to endorsement, all online. Faculty members in the reading education program have been creating and teaching online courses at the Curry School for a decade.
“We measure success using the state Praxis test for reading specialists,” said Mary Abouzeid, program coordinator for reading education. “Our online students pass with very high scores.”
A unique feature of the Curry School online courses, Moore said, is the development of an online community that allows for opportunities to interact with expert instructors and peers around the country or the world.
“While there are numerous resources for learners to access content, our emphasis and the growing emphasis of top online programs is to create opportunities for learners to access a quality educational experience,” she said.
The Ed.S. degree in reading education is designed to help educators with a master’s degree acquire the skills to develop curricula, and assess, evaluate and instruct students in reading. The M.Ed. in reading education is best suited for reading practitioners to strengthen their knowledge, instructional skills and abilities for effective teaching of reading, development of reading programs and literacy coaching at the elementary and secondary school levels.
The Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction is designed for individuals who want to make a difference in educational settings by developing more effective instructional practices and better curriculum development strategies. Students will select from one of four areas of focus: English language learners, gifted education, instructional technology or reading education.