When faced with a regressive government that consistently demonstrates its backwards logic, we must double down on our commitments to one another, to our collective well-being and to equity and social justice.
ETFO Online Additional Qualification Courses: Professional Learning for the 21st Century (Professional Services)
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.
This issue of the magazine reminds us of the work we do in our classrooms and communities every day for equity, and of the tremendous amount of work that has yet to be done.