Studying to become a teacher online has at times been heavily criticised. There are opinions that teaching cannot be learned online and people have been sceptical about its quality.
Although there is strong evidence to suggest that those who study this way are high-achieving students - ones who have diligently studied carefully conceived and well-supported courses - this seems to be largely ignored in these discussions.
Yet the response to the COVID-19 has seen universities and colleges rapidly move to offering teaching courses online. This decision may have been made not only to support the students, but for the economic survival of these institutions.
Given this, questions arise about the quality of such offerings and whether student experiences with these new offerings may feed into the negative opinions about online teaching courses. Alternatively, will this event finally pave the path to acceptance? Will educational decision-makers and institutions who have previously been naysayers about this delivery mode begin to see some of the positive contributions it can make to students, schools and communities?
Will they begin to recognise that online teaching courses provides broader access to university study? There are large groups of mature-aged females, with family and work responsibilities, who through online study are able to pursue a career change regardless of where they live.
This means that students can study in their community and then go on to teach at local schools. The valuable contributions that these students make to their communities, especially those in the remote and regional locations, should not be overlooked.
At a time when online education is being more broadly embraced by schools and parents, teachers who studied online, and those institutions who have been delivering such programs for a longer period of time, should have helpful insights and experience to offer. These include skills and understanding about online learning and teaching approaches, digital tools and online classrooms. These teachers are also likely to have understandings about how to organise themselves and how to remain motivated and engaged in online learning.
For those of us who have observed and experienced the quality of students who study teaching online, we welcome an informed discussion about this delivery mode and an acknowledgement that this is another way we can deliver quality accessible education.
Dr Rebecca Walker and Mr Craig Sims are from the School of Education at Curtin University.