Foundations of Virtual Instruction

Learn what it takes to teach a K-12 course online! Investigate the history of virtual education, explore innovative tools, and examine key issues related to K-12 virtual instruction.

About The Course

This course provides teachers with the foundation for understanding the movement towards virtual instruction. It introduces fundamental knowledge needed by teachers to succeed in a technology-dependent, instructional environment. You will explore the history of online learning and understand how a variety of delivery models are evolving in the K-12 environment, ranging from completely online to hybrid or blended classrooms. We will discuss how the programs work and who they serve, addressing some basics about equity issues, access and school funding, as well as ethical and legal issues that support and challenge the models. Upon completion of the course, you will understand what it takes to transition from teaching in the classroom to providing virtual instruction.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I earn for completing this course?
You can earn a Verified Certificate by verifying your work with a risk-free, no obligation Signature Track trial. Payment for Signature Track can be made anytime until the week before the course ends — so you’ll be more certain that you’ll earn your Verified Certificate.  If you choose not to verify your work, you can still participate in the complete course.  While your final score will be noted on your course records page, this course will not offer a Statement of Accomplishment.  

Will I receive university credit for this course?
At this time, university  credit is not available for this course. However, this course is one of four courses offered through Coursera by UC Irvine focused on Virtual Teacher Education. Those students who successfully complete all four courses and earn a Verified Certificate with Distinction (available exclusively by joining Signature Track) for each course will be able to apply for a practicum course offered online through UC Irvine Extension. For more information on the UC Irvine practicum visit 

What resources will I need for this class?
The course is self-contained, with the suggested textbooks amplifying the analysis and application of pedagogical principles. You are not required to purchase the textbooks in order to be successful in the class or to receive a Statement of Accomplishment.

What is the coolest thing I'll learn if I take this class?
Whether you're new to the world of virtual education or an experienced virtual teacher, we hope this course helps you think critically about the tools and models associated with K-12 virtual education. You will learn how to engage students more deeply in their learning in the virtual classroom.

Recommended Background

The course is primarily for:

  • Teachers working with children ages 5 - 18
  • Faculty working with further education, community college or vocational students
  • Continuing education or in-service facilitators supporting teachers and faculty
  • Educators interested in educational technology and/or online instruction
  • Please note that although this program is offered to participants from around the world, many of the examples and experiences shared will be based on the education structure and processes of the United States. Participants will be encouraged to discuss their own country-based experiences in the forums.