how they should do it based on their own needs and goals,” said presenter and planning committee member Barbara Treacy of the Education Development Center, Inc.,2 which supports ETLO through its Center for Online Professional Education.
Since its launch in 2000, the project has trained more than 1,400 online specialists, course developers, and online facilitators in more than 35 states. It offers two main types of capacity-building programs: how to be an online instructor and how to be an online course developer. About 50 online workshops are now offered in different subject areas and grade levels. The project also has created an online community of online instructors in which participants can discuss resources, share answers to questions, and reflect on the work they are doing. Many of these discussions are archived and available to new participants.
Because the emphasis of ETLO is on building capacity, it seeks to enlist participants as long-term partners in professional development. “It’s not just a course. People are getting involved for a long-term relationship,” said Treacy. “We are there both to train people and to make sure they and their participants are successful.” After they finish the course, participants develop a plan with their district or departmental leadership to run a series of workshops within their organizations based on identified goals and needs. These workshops result in projects that teachers can implement in their classrooms. Surveys show that of 2,500 teachers who have received training through ETLO, 98 percent are using the workshop projects in their classrooms.
An example of ETLO’s influence is its work with the Mississippi Department of Education. ETLO trained a cohort of 24 online facilitators who then offered online workshops to teachers across the state who were teaching on emergency certificates. “It became the only way those teachers on emergency certificates could get into the classroom,” Treacy said. The program was so successful that Mississippi made the training mandatory for online facilitators, and the approach has spread to other parts of the Mississippi education department.
“The course moved rapidly as research articles provided meat for discussions on topics relevant to online learning and facilitation. Attributes of adult learners, different teaching and learning styles, and developing plans to encourage high levels of participation provided content for lengthy discussions. These qualities and strategies not only enable online learners but students in classrooms as well. I cannot think of when I’ve enjoyed a course as much as I have this one, nor can I remember feeling any more comfortable, or gaining more applicable learning than in this course.” — online facilitator participating in ETLO workshop (as presented by workshop presenter Barbara Treacy)
Additional information is available at http://main.edc.org/.