New program prepares educators for blended learning

About 150 teachers have taken the original version of the course and become LEC-certified as online instructors. “It was time to fill in the gaps and add in pieces that didn’t make it into the first version” of the course, Ottinger said.

One example of a new piece in the revised curriculum is accessibility—responses from district and classroom leaders to the original curriculum revealed a need for further information about how to make lessons ADA-compliant, Ottinger said.

The original certification focused strictly on online learning, and LEC planned to have one course for online instruction and a second course for blended instruction. But after course designers realized not enough of a gap existed between the two to warrant a second program, they instead “stripped down [and] reconstructed” the original course to address blended learning concerns, he said.

Several boot camps hosted by LEC and its core members trained about 50 instructors to teach the curriculum. By the end of the summer, the course will have certified close to 300 educators.

Educators interested in the certification course can choose which of the core LEC alliance member organizations to take it from: Alameda County Office of Education, California Technology Assistance Project, CUE, Contra Costa County Office of Education, Lesley University, Orange County Department of Education, San Diego County Office of Education, Santa Clara County Office of Education, or the Technology Information Center for Administrative Leadership (TICAL).

Each of the core alliance members offers a version of the course, with some slight differences in format and presentation. For example, most but not all alliance members offer a face-to-face kickoff session at the beginning of the course.

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“The basic curriculum is 100-percent the same, but each alliance member may facilitate the course slightly differently depending on the different tools [they have],” said Ottinger, who characterized these differences as “peripheral.”

Many districts are leaping into online education without properly training staff to make the switch from traditional to digital learning—and LEC helps make school leaders aware of the need for professional development, said Rowland Baker, director of TICAL.

At $450 to $500 for the Online and Blended Teacher course, the certificate program is a lower-cost alternative to a multicourse, university-taught program and can be a good option for experienced teachers who already have completed their graduate work, said Lawrence.

LEC on June 26 also announced the launch of another course, Leading Edge Administrator Certification, which aims to familiarize school and district leaders with educational technology and its needs and challenges. The alliance plans to introduce general ed-tech courses for classroom teachers, librarians, and professional developers within the next two years.

Through a Creative Commons license, all LEC curriculum materials are available for downloading free of charge. But completing the formal certification process can provide a resume boost and help teachers in their job-hunting, Lawrence said.

Lawrence also noted that upon certification, students become part of the LEC Ning—a social network just for LEC graduates—so “you come out automatically connected to a community that can answer those questions.”

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