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ETFO Online Additional Qualification Courses: Professional Learning for the 21st Century (Professional Services)

Jerry DeQuetteville

The federation’s  executive took a bold step in  September  when it agreed to a plan for developing  ETFO online additional qualification (AQ) courses. While ETFO has gained a reputation for the delivery of high-quality face-to-face AQ courses, we have never offered an AQ course totally online. This will change next year as we start to roll out the first of a series of online AQ courses.

ETFO  believes that courses  should be available to as many members  as possible. We have received  many calls from members in regions where none of our face-to-face  courses were being offered. They want access to the same professional  supports as their peers. Our plan will address this need.

Geography is not the only consideration:  members have a variety of rea- sons for wanting to engage in professional learning online. Online courses

  • are flexible and convenient and still provide an exemplary professional learning experience
  • make it easier to balance work, professional learning, and family responsibilities
  • provide opportunities for shared collaborative learning
  • allow participants to manage their own learning and accountability through self-management  skills
  • provide extended reflection time resulting in more meaningful learning
  • provide excellent classroom resources that may be unavailable locally.

A recent Harvard Graduate School  study reviewed teacher professional  learning  and noted that  the  “need for  professional development  that  can fit with teachers’  busy schedules, that draws  on powerful  resources  often not available locally, and that can create an evolutionary path toward providing real-time, on-going, work-embedded support has stimulated the creation of teacher online professional  development programs.”1

The  executive recognized that  it was time for ETFO to  provide these dynamic professional learning opportunities for members. The executive approved  a  plan  for 50 online AQ courses to be developed over the next three years. This is a huge undertaking —   likely the  most  significant  move the organization has ever made in the area of professional learning.

This plan recognizes both the organization’s desire to  provide our members  with the  professional learning tools they want and our ability to take on such a bold initiative.  Until now we did not  have the  capacity to  provide online learning tools in a manner  consistent with the “ETFO edge.”

ETFO strives  to   make  its   AQ   offerings   a superior  learning experience  —  giving them the ETFO edge —  by

  • ensuring that AQ course developers embed ETFO beliefs within the course
  • having courses developed by educators who appreciate the realities of elementary classrooms
  • developing  course content that is practical, well-grounded in effective practice, and respects  the balance  between theory and practice
  • respecting the work/life balance of teachers
  • reviewing and updating courses regularly to ensure that activities, resources,  and key concepts  remain current.

Staff members  working on this  exciting project are committed to embedding the ETFO edge into each and every one of our online AQ courses. Another  important  piece  of  the ETFO  edge is that this superior  learning experience costs  24  percent less  than those offered by other providers.  We are committed to providing these courses at a  minimal cost; other providers  may see AQs as a money-making opportunity.

Nevertheless, we recognize that some members would rather meet in a face-to- face setting and gain new knowledge and skills through personal interaction with their  peers. Therefore we will  continue to  offer our current AQ courses in  this format, in order to provide members with the  choices they  want  in  professional learning.

Our plan for  online AQ courses will create  numerous leadership  opportunities  for  members.  Over the  next  three years  ETFO staff  will  be  looking  for writers,  course  developers, facilitators, and instructors. Be sure to visit our web- site, etfo-aq.ca, regularly for information about these new possibilities.

ETFO  staff are working hard to move this  bold idea towards reality.  There is much to be done and timelines are tight. We  are  committed to   the  notion  that all courses will have the ETFO  edge that members value and will cost significantly less than those provided by others. Soon all   members will  have  access  to  the famous ETFO edge with  the  click   of  a mouse.

For  more  information  about  ETFO professional course offerings,  visit  etfo-aq.ca.

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