January 2, 2013 | | Leave a comment If you do a Google search about online elementary education degrees, you are likely to get a lot of advertisements from various online schools that offer these degree programs but not a lot of substance on the subject. This could leave you with a lot of questions on the matter: are online elementary education degrees really worth anything in education? Should I consider a traditional degree program instead? To get some real answers on the topic, I met up with Tammy, a friend of mine who has been teaching fifth grade in Utah for the last four years. She’s also a mother of four school-aged children. Tammy was gracious enough to answer a few questions and give some insight into how real teachers are using online elementary education degrees to improve their careers: Marcus: So what is your favorite part about being an elementary school teacher? Tammy: I love having the same schedule as my own children. When they have a day off of school, I usually do, too, with the same spring, winter, and summer breaks. I also love seeing the children discover new ideas. They are always so sweet and so eager to please me. They make me feel special. Marcus: From your experience in the education industry, which is better: an online elementary education degree program or a traditional one? Tammy: That depends. If an online elementary degree has you applying what you are learning with real children, then I think that it is better. Also, older principals are a bit old-fashioned and are more likely to think that the traditional degrees are better. But many newer principals now know that online education is actually very competitive and may notice and like the fact that those with online degrees usually have other experiences. They usually have other work experience on their resume that make them more well-rounded. It also means that these teachers are computer savvy, which will definitely be the future of education. Marcus: Do a lot of teachers go for online elementary education degrees, instead of traditional ones? Tammy: I’ve heard of a lot of my peers going for online degrees. Most of the teachers that I know that have gotten degrees from online schools have done it to receive a teacher credential after already receiving a bachelor’s degree. Or sometimes they’ll do it to receive a master’s degree. The online master’s degree in elementary education is very popular. Marcus: Why do these teachers go for online elementary education programs, instead of the traditional route? Tammy: Because I am considering a master’s degree in education, I’ve asked my peers what they liked about these programs. They’ve said it’s more convenient. Teachers have so many things to do that having to drive to an on-campus class would take even more time. Online class cuts down on commuting time and allows you to learn the same things on your schedule. They’ve also said they did it to move up to a higher pay scale in the educational system. An elementary education master’s degree allows you to get paid more and makes you more credible with your employers. Also, the online degree programs usually fit in really well with your work in the classroom. Classes that you take online require you to do application to classroom practices. In other words, your homework will be to apply the concepts in your own classroom. This makes the things you are learning more applicable than if you were to just hear about them in a college campus setting. Marcus: How long do online elementary education degrees take? Tammy: I’m not sure about the undergraduate degrees, but I know that the master’s degrees are about two years. Marcus: Of the teachers you know who have gotten online elementary education degrees, what have they said about the programs? Tammy: They’ve all liked them. They said they were convenient, competitive, and somewhat inexpensive. I’ve never heard any of my peers say they didn’t like them. Marcus: How much do online elementary education degree programs typically cost? Tammy: I’m not sure, but considering the commuting time and cost, I am assuming it’s about the same as or cheaper than the traditional route. Marcus: In your opinion, when is an online elementary education program the right decision? When is it not? Tammy: It’s the right decision if you already have experience with teaching children and want to get a bit more instruction from the convenience of your home. If you are not very computer savvy, then I wouldn’t think you would want to start with an online class. Marcus: Thanks for answering my questions. I have just one more. If you were talking to someone who was thinking of getting their elementary education degree, what would be the best piece of advice you could give to them? Tammy: I would say don’t do it unless you are willing to put up with kids and parents that can be downright mean and disrespectful. If you are easily offended and want a nine-five job, then do not become a teacher. However, if you are someone who cares about making a very real and profound difference, even if it requires working 60 to 70 hours a week with a very meager 40 hours-a-week paycheck, then education is your job. Marcus: Thank you talking with me. I think will be very useful to all the prospective elementary school teachers out there. Tammy: You’re welcome. Thanks for the opportunity!