New England teachers try online training

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"Cyberschool"

New England educators will soon be taking professional development courses

online with services from WebEd Inc.

The South Eastern Regional Education Service Center Inc. in Derry, N.H.,

will resell WebEd's curriculum to 24,000 educators in 178 school districts

throughout New Hampshire. The center will also develop special education

courses for WebEd.

The WebEd courses will also be available to nearly 117,000 educational

personnel in Massachusetts through the South Shore Educational Collaborative

and the French River Education Center.

Teachers can order the self-guided courses directly from WebEd or through

one of the education service agencies, which get a share of the fee. WebEd,

which was incorporated two years ago, has sales agreements in 23 states,

said Kathleen Batcheller, WebEd's vice president of marketing. The Hampton,

N.H., company's curriculum includes more than 200 courses.

Public school teachers on average are required to take 20 to 30 hours

of professional training courses each year to maintain their teaching certificates.

"Educational service agencies provide 60 percent to 70 percent of professional

development courses in the K-12 market," Batcheller said. School districts

can also buy courses directly from vendors or develop courses themselves.

Companies such as WebEd tout distance-learning courses as more convenient

and cost-effective than traditional seminars and workshops. A typical 10-hour

WebEd course at the discounted agency rate costs $85 to $90, Batcheller

said.

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