Online USC course sees growth
Posted September 21, 2010 at 5:45 am in News
Rebecca Carpenter, a 45-year-old single mother looking to go back to school to receive her teaching credentials, sought out USCâs online Master of Arts in Teaching program.
âI had been doing a lot of research on teaching and credential programs and I saw this Facebook ad for MAT@USC,â said Carpenter, who holds a bachelorâs degree from Harvard University and a master of fine arts from the University of Texas at Austin. âI started researching this program and whatâs really strange is that itâs perfect for me.â
MAT@USC is an online teaching program offered by the Rossier School of Education. The program, which began in June 2009, provides a fully online experience with interactive lectures and videos to replicate the traditional classroom experience.
During the first year, MAT@USC enrolled 144 students, of which 82 Â graduated in June.
This yearâs class consists of 1,000 students, a huge increase from the previous year, said Director of Operations Erika Klein. Yet, the program does not yet know why the numbers increased so rapidly.
The appeal of MAT@USC is in its flexibility for nontraditional students who hold full-time jobs or have families to care for, Klein said.
âWe also have people in the military who, because of their situation … have to move around,â Klein said. âWith our program, they donât have to stop their education.â
Carpenter said the versatility of the program was part of the reason she chose it over others.
âI couldnât afford to not be working. If Iâd had to go to USC every day or four days a week or whatever, plus do my observations, thereâs no way I couldâve done it,â Carpenter said. âItâs just not realistic for real peopleâs lives.â
MAT@USC alumna Haley DeMaria of Annapolis, Md., said that when her husband had to work in London for three months, she didnât have to make the decision between school and family.
âI could have that fun with my family during the day and not have to put my educational goals on hold,â DeMaria, who typically worked on her classes at night, said.
Other perks of the program, Klein said, include its staggered start dates and its particular attention to teaching in low-income, urban settings.
âBy going online, weâre producing more and addressing the needs of students across the country. We have students in Alaska, Hawaii, New York,â Klein said. Students enrolled in the program currently live in 46 states.
MAT@USC students have the opportunity to exchange ideas and connect with other teachers nationwide looking to receive their masters of arts in teaching degree, which appeals to many students, DeMaria said.
âI loved hearing about educational issues from my cohort, my colleagues, all over the country,â DeMaria said. âSo many of our issues in schools were the same but had a different … spin to them.â
The experience of getting to know one another is almost completely online, Klein said. The classrooms are video chat rooms with feeds of each student and the professor side by side on a grid.
âItâs a live feed,â Klein said. âEveryone jokes that itâs like The Brady Bunch.â
Though the program is online, the quality of the instruction is the same, she said.
âWe pay very close attention to who we hire,â Klein said. âWe donât just hire Joe from across the street. This program is composed of USC faculty, developed by USC faculty, overseen by USC faculty.â
MAT@USC is also expanding, Klein said. They faculty already established Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, a program for teachers who want to teach English, and on Sept. 13 they launched an international program.
âOne thing I always remember our dean saying is that this is not your grandmotherâs school of education,â Klein said. âWe want people to be agents of change.â