Online learning is skyrocketing in popularity.

Online learning is skyrocketing in popularity.

The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) have teamed up on a new awards program that will recognize an outstanding online teacher for his or her exceptional contributions to virtual K-12 education.

Nominations for the first-ever National Online Teacher of the Year Award are being accepted now, the two groups said in a press release. A superintendent, principal, program director, department chair, or any other supervisor may nominate an online educator in any public school or statewide virtual school for the honor.

One top winner will receive a trophy and an all-expenses-paid trip to the 2010 Virtual School Symposium sponsored by iNACOL, to be held Nov. 14-16 in Glendale, Ariz. The symposium is expected to bring together more than 1,600 participants from national, state, district, private, and other virtual-school programs to explore trends and best practices in eLearning. The winner also will be recognized at the iNACOL Annual Meeting on Nov. 14 in Glendale and will be featured on the SREB and iNACOL web sites.

The winner will be announced at the annual meeting of SREB’s Educational Technology Cooperative, which brings the 16 SREB member states together to create and expand the uses of technology in education.

“Now is the perfect time to recognize the key role of K-12 online teachers in providing top-quality instruction to America’s students. Online learning is accelerating nationwide,” said Myk Garn, director of the cooperative.

“Teachers are the real unsung heroes in online learning. Working with digital content … and collaborative tools, many teachers are interacting with students in new ways and honing online instruction to provide new, personalized pathways for students to access a world-class education. Teachers provide the gold standard in enabling student learning [and] leveling the playing field online,” said Susan Patrick, president and chief executive officer of iNACOL, based in Vienna, Va.

Nominations for the award must be submitted to SREB by April 16. Forms and complete rules are available online.

Note to readers:

Don’t forget to visit the Creating the 21st Century Classroom resource center. Today’s mobile technology enables children to have nearly 24-hour media access, and many students are spending close to eight hours per day using entertainment media, according to new research. Go to:

Creating the 21st Century Classroom