Using a Virtual Classroom to Prepare New Special Educators Live and Online in West Virginia and Across the U. S.

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The Department of Special Education at West Virginia University offers an online graduate certification and/or degree program in six areas of specialization: (a) Autism Spectrum Disorders; (b) Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education; (c) Gifted Education; (d) Low Vision/Blindness; (e) Multicategorical Special Education; and (f) Severe/Multiple Disabilities. All courses in all program options are offered entirely online, using a combination of live online class sessions from 5-7 pm Eastern Time on alternate weeks plus multimedia content modules and other learning activities available on demand with scheduled due dates across the semester. Field and clinical experiences are arranged in the students’ home communities, with on-site supervision by local personnel and online supervision by university faculty. Students do not need to come to campus for any part of the program; they apply for admission, register, take courses, complete field and clinical experiences, seek advising, and apply for graduation online and can even participate in the graduation ceremony through a live webcast. Although this program was designed to serve prospective and practicing teachers throughout the state of West Virginia, it also enrolls students from many other states and several international locations.