Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Online Learning Graduation for Northern Ireland

Pictured above back row: Aidan McCanny (SELB), Daithi Murray, (St. Paul's Bessbrook), Ciaran McCrumlish (SELB). Front row: Elaine Dunne (St. Paul's Bessbrook), Anne McKinless (SELB), Vivien Kelly (SELB).

On the 3rd June 2010, the Regional Training Unit (RTU) for N Ireland, celebrated another graduation event in Malone House Belfast. Over 60 practising post-primary teachers and officers from the education support services (ELBs, ETI, CCEA) successfully completed RTU’s Online Learning and Teaching for Educators Programme (OLTE). The keynote speaker at this year’s ceremony was Mr John Anderson, Managing Inspector ETI. Presentations were also given by Mr Sean Sloan, Headteacher, St Patrick’s Grammar School, Downpatrick and Michelle Clancy, OLTE Graduate. The certificates were presented by Mr Stanton Sloan, Chief Executive of the South Eastern Education & Library Board.

The Regional Training Unit (RTU) developed the OLTE programme in 2003 to meet the Department of Education’s (DE) requirement for a continuous professional development (CPD) programme that would help address the overarching goal of the Education Technology Strategy “That all young people should be learning, with, through and about the use of digital and online technologies”.

The OLTE programme, which focuses on the development of online tutors skills, is accredited at Level 4 by the National Open College Network. The participants complete 3 progressively challenging units: Unit 1- Introduction to Online Tutor Skills, Unit 2 - Design, implement and tutor an online lesson and Unit 3 - Design, implement and tutor an online programme. To date over 250 graduates have provided more than 2000 participants with first-hand experience of learning in an online environment.

In 2007/08 the Department of Education funded the first post-primary teachers’ places on the OLTE programme. Teachers were able to avail of a CPD programme which requires them to reflect on their practice, develop resources, plan for delivery, teach and assess their pupils in an online environment. This valuable CPD opportunity allows teachers to revisit many of the GTC Professional Competences and can be used towards Performance Review and Staff Development (PRSD) requirements.

Last year’s teachers developed and delivered a variety of online courses to pupils from across a range of post-primary schools including, for example, aspects of AS Product Design, AS Biology, and Business Language Competence. Following this success, OLTE Graduates are developing projects such as GCSE Engineering, Certificate of Personal Effectiveness (CoPE) and English Essential Skills for subsequent blended-course delivery.

This academic year (2009/2010) three cohorts of teachers have enrolled on OLTE and have successfully completed Units 1 & 2. They have started Unit 3, with a target for online course delivery in September 2010.

The Department of Education is inviting a limited number of post-primary schools to apply for OLTE for the 2010/11 academic year. Priority will be given to applications from schools within Learning Communities which have had no access to OLTE training in previous cohorts, which clearly identify partner schools and have begun to consider which courses have online potential for their school/learning community and could form the basis for Unit 3 of OLTE.

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