Modern Degrees Meeting District Needs

by Web Services

Wilkes University’s online teaching master’s degree and letter of endorsement program aids districts in new Pennsylvania legislation.

Wilkes University’s School of Education continues to be a solution for districts and education professionals, offering a variety of relevant degrees and professional development programs for today’s educator. The State of Pennsylvania recently passed the Flexible Instruction Day Bill, otherwise known as PA HB2690. Rhonda Rabbitt, Wilkes University’s Dean of the School of Education, and Grace Surdovel, faculty member and coordinator of graduate programs in technology, explain the bill and what it means for schools, district leaders and educators.

1. What is the Flexible Instruction Day bill?

Flexible Instruction Day Bill allows schools to conduct classes in a flexible learning format during events that may delay or cancel classes. For example, Pennsylvania school districts can develop a program to conduct classes online — up to five days during an academic year — in lieu of snow days that extend the end of the academic year. These “cyber snow days” can provide seamless, uninterrupted learning time for students and helps teachers stay on track with their lesson plans.

2. What does this mean for school districts?

Quite simply, districts need educators who are equipped with the skills to conduct classes online. The demand for online learning, in both K-12 and higher education, continues to grow. This bill is an example why all educators needs to grow their skills and expertise in online environments.

3. What are the most important skills educators need to embed online learning into their curriculum?

It’s not just about knowing how to conduct online classes; it’s about creating effective and dynamic learning environments that help students grow and excel. This includes learning how to design engaging online classes, communicate with students effectively in an online forum, incorporate tech-driven learning activities that complement the classroom experience, and use online learning systems like Canvas, Google Classroom or Brightspace. That’s where Wilkes comes in.

Our master’s degree in online teaching provides teachers with instructional design skills needed to create engaging, student-centered instruction in an online classroom. The degree includes the Pennsylvania online instruction endorsement, which allows educators to earn a formal letter of endorsement in this niche area. The letter of endorsement can also be taken as a standalone, 12-credit program.

4. What does the Wilkes online teaching program offer?

One of the most attractive aspects of the program is its online format, allowing educators to learn when and where it’s most convenient. Courses run in accelerated, seven-week sessions allowing students in the program to complete two courses each semester while focusing on one course at a time.

We know that cost is a huge point of consideration for graduate students and school districts. Wilkes tuition is below the state rate at just $517 per credit. This means educators can earn the degree and letter of endorsement for approximately $16,000. In addition, districts who wish to partner with Wilkes to educate a cohort of teachers may qualify for additional tuition benefits.

Overall, the idea that you can earn a master’s degree and letter of endorsement in just 18 months is an incredible benefit to teachers looking to advance in this growing field while earning level II certification. It’s also a benefit to district leaders who may need to quickly and conveniently prepare a cohort of educators with these skills.

5. Is the program only beneficial for Pennsylvania educators?

Not at all. Educators from any district or location can benefit from the concepts addressed in this program. Though the online instruction letter of endorsement is specific to Pennsylvania, there is applicability to all teachers educating students in a modern classroom.

6. How can districts and teachers engage with Wilkes?

We are proud to partner with school districts to meet their educational needs. School districts looking to prepare a cohort of teachers to teach in an online classroom environment may contact Dr. Rhonda Rabbitt at (570) 408-3408 or  

Individual teachers looking to advance in these areas can contact Tori Rhodes at (570) 408-4311 or to learn more. Tuition deferment is available for districts that pay educational costs.  

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