K-12 Course

The Certificate for Online Adjunct Teaching (COAT) program provides online professional development for online educators - college, K-12, continuing education, corporate, and government.

Online education is becoming an important option for K-12 education.  Thirty-one states have fully online school options, and five states (Florida, Michigan, Idaho, Virginia and Alabama) require students to take at least one online course in order to graduate.¹  The future of education will encompass online learning at all grade levels -- blended, flipped and fully online.

Teaching online is different from teaching in the traditional face-to-face classroom.  Without adequate preparation, online educators can easily become overwhelmed.  Balancing technology, new teaching strategies, and online collaboration requires a new set of skills.  COAT can help educators learn those skills. 

The COAT course is fully online and explores online teaching and learning principles and practices.  Educators experience online learning from the students' perspective as they explore and master specific competencies needed in order to become an effective online educator.  Originally designed for college adjunct instructors (hence the name), many K-12 educators have found the course to be extremely valuable.  Feedback from COAT "alumni" has consistently indicated a high level of satisfaction, with over 90% of respondents indicating they would refer a colleague to the course.  A large number of those enrolled in the course indicated they enrolled because they were referred by a colleague who had completed the course.  High praise indeed!





Other courses:

COAT for Higher Ed

What you will learn:

    1. The importance of, and strategies for, orienting students to the online learning environment.
    2. Pedagogical approaches to teaching online - Teaching and learning theories, strategies, and best practices.
    3. Establishing social processes and presence - Creating a positive learning environment, building a learning community, and engaging students in the online classroom
    4. Facilitating online discussions and group work - Encouraging and managing peer-to-peer learning and collaboration
    5. Managing assessment - Maintaining assessment integrity, establishing/implementing appropriate testing strategies, creating and using grading rubrics, etc.
    6. Important legal issues (FERPA, ADA, and copyright) - Student privacy, accommodating students with disabilities, understanding copyright law as applied to online course materials
    7. Internet safety for K-12 students
    8. Basic instructional design principles as applied to the facilitation of online courses
    9. Self assessment of technical skills and learning management system skills

 K-12 teachers study and collaborate with experienced, online K-12 and college faculty

      • Every lesson models communication, collaboration and constructivism
      • Twenty-first century learning is demonstrated throughout the course

To view the detailed course and module objectives see the COAT Course Competencies.

View the COAT course syllabus.

The Certificate for Online Adjunct Teaching (COAT) course has been approved by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) for three continuing professional development (CPD) credits for licensed Maryland K-12 teachers. The "COAT and Maryland Teacher Technology Standards and Outcomes Alignment Chart" relates the COAT course competencies to the Maryland Teacher Techology Standards.

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This course is intended to introduce instructors to teaching (facilitating) an online course that has already been developed. This course does not train faculty how to develop an online course.

    • The course is taught fully online.
    • The course is nine weeks long.
    • While opportunities to participate in synchronous activities during the course are provided (optional course orientation and webinars), they are not required.

Course Prerequisites

    1. Experience teaching in the traditional (face-to-face) classroom is strongly recommended.
    2. Basic computer skills. To evaluate your computer skills, take the "Computer Skills Inventory" self-check quiz. At a minimum, you must be able to
      1. Save, find, and organize files and folders on your hard drive
      2. Browse the Internet using browsing software
      3. Send and receive files using email
      4. Use word processing software (Microsoft Word or compatible)
      5. Note: Computer skills are not taught in the COAT course. If you are lacking basic computer skills, you should reconsider taking the COAT course until you have acquired those skills.

  3.  A sincere interest in learning how to teach online. If you aren't sure whether you are a good candidate for teaching online, 
         please view "Are You a Good Candidate for Teaching Online?"


Frequently Asked Questions

How is the course conducted?

The course is nine weeks long and is taught fully online. This gives participants an opportunity to experience an online course as a student. (This has, in fact, been an important strength of the course as identified by COAT alumni.) The course is highly structured and includes requirements to complete weekly activities, assignments, and readings, as well as interaction and collaboration using the course discussion board and wiki. Participants must log into the course at least three days per week. Estimated weekly time commitment is six to eight hours. While opportunities to participate in synchronous activities (webinars/Internet conferencing) during the course are provided, they are not required.

Is college credit awarded for the course?

College credit is not awarded for the course. The course is intended to be a structured professional development activity for teaching professionals.   The course has, however, been approved by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) for three continuing professional development (CPD) credits for licensed Maryland K-12 educators.  Participants who successfully complete the course will receive a "certificate of completion" from MarylandOnline. Completion of this course in no way guarantees participants they will receive an offer of employment by any institution or be exempt from specific training requirements of individual institutions.  Note: Currently Maryland is the only state that awards CPD credits for completing the COAT course.  

What is covered in the course?

 The course is intended to introduce participants to principles and practices for teaching online courses. The course is not intended to teach participants how to develop an online course. For a complete list of the topics and objectives, see the syllabus and the  COAT Course Competencies.

What are the standards used for the course?

 The course was designed using the Quality Matters™ standards.  A formal QM™ course review was conducted in 2012.  The course met QM™ review standards at the 100% level.



Looking for something a little different? 

Try our "Stay Current with Tools of the Web: Create a Personal Learning Network"  course.

Our most popular course with K-12 educators! 

For both online and face-to-face teachers.


COAT has been featured in articles by a number of organizations, including the Distance Education Report, WCET (The Wiche Cooperative for Educational Technology) , and the "International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning" (IRRODL). (See the "Articles" page for details and links to the articles.)

COAT has presented at numerous distance learning conferences including Sloan-C, the University of Wisconsin at Madison's Annual Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning, Quality Matters™, the Maryland Consortium for Adjunct Faculty Professional Development, the Instructional Technology Council (webinar), and the Maryland Distance Learning Association. For a complete list and additional details see our the "Conference Presentations" page.

1. The Global Race for Online Learning: How Does America Compare? Matthew Lynch. Education Week. October 18, 2013

The Certificate for Online Adjunct Teaching (COAT) is an in inter-institutional project. Content for the course is based upon research conducted by a team from seven different higher education institutions.  Based upon this research, the course was designed and developed by a team of experienced online instructors and instructional designers from six different institutions.