Wouldn’t you know that the narrative of “bad teachers cause low scores and failing schools” would produce new contenders to prepare “great” teachers?

The regular ratings published by the National Council of Teacher Quality in U.S. News claim that almost every teacher education program in the nation stinks. They reach that conclusion not by visiting campuses but by perusing course catalogues and give demerits based on their own criteria.

But what to do?

The answer (to some): online teacher education.

Many online “universities” already offer degrees to teachers, who presumably never interact with a real child until they enter the classroom. Online universities are the biggest producer of masters’ degrees for teaching.

Now, Emily Feistritzer has created an online company called “TEACH-NOW,” which will offer degrees to those who want to teach. She has already awarded degrees to 600 teachers but plans to expand the number of students to 10,000.

The newly rebranded TEACH-NOW Educatore School of Education (taking the go-big-or-go-home approach to capitalization) was founded in 2011 by Emily Feistritzer, a long-time analyst of alternative-certification programs. TEACH-NOW is a traditional certification program, however—it takes at least nine months to finish, leading to certification. The first class began in March 2013.

While the school has commenced or completed training more than 600 teaching candidates, it announced this week ambitious plans to prepare 10,000 new teachers over the next five years, and establish a master’s degree program. To help with the expansion, TEACH-NOW has hired Philip A. Schmidt, former dean of the teacher-training program for Western Governors University, a major nonprofit online school. At WGU, Schmidt helped oversee a similar scale-up over the past 14 years.

“It’s true that we’re in the relatively early years of this school of education [TEACH-NOW], but everything about what I see and hear tells me that the jury is no longer out,” Schmidt said in an interview. “This pedagogical approach is the real thing.”Emily-feistritzer-phil-schmidt.jpg

That approach involves a cohort-based, activity-based model with a focus on group work and early exposure to the classroom, starting by week three of the program, Feistritzer said. There’s also emphasis on candidates understanding several forms of education technology.

I admit I am skeptical of most online learning programs for children and for professionals, but I am willing to be convinced. Has any reader earned a degree online? What do you think of your preparation to teach?