Why online teaching requires rigorous training (Mary Burns)

Although I know there is some merit in direct instruction, this is an interesting piece that Larry Cuban shared. Mary Burns is very right when she states: “The single greatest factor in a student’s academic success is the presence of an effective (good) teacher. This is true in wealthy countries—and it is especially true in low-income countries (3). It is true whether the student is 8 or 18 or 28. And it is true whether the teacher is teaching face-to-face or online.”

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Mary Burns, Education Development Center


(All references appear in above link)

 December 18, 2013


I am presently working in South America—a continent of gente amable, stunning vistas, and an exploding online learning environment.  In my work with the Government of Ecuador’s National Education University (helping to conceptualize and design its online and blended programs), I have had numerous conversations with various representatives from universities, governments, and online learning programs—in Europe and North and South America—about online learning.

One impression continues to nag at me from these conversations — there seems to be a lack of concern for preparing instructors to teach online.  We know that good teaching matters in the classroom.

But if a great teacher is to the classroom what Fred Astaire was to dancing, then an online teacher must be even better because teaching online is far more challenging than teaching face-to-face.

Like Ginger Rogers, the…

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