About Me

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I have been an elementary and secondary school teacher and administrator. Currently, I am a faculty member in the Faculty of Education at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. My M.Ed. and Ph.D. had a focus on the educational and linguistic experiences of children who moved from other countries to Canada.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Haiti Educator and Leadership Institute: Online Teacher Professional Development in Fragile Contexts

Teachers regularly engage in professional development, sometimes in face-to-face settings (e.g. workshops, conferences) or online (additional qualification courses).

However, the opportunity for online professional development for teachers in countries such as Haiti is extremely difficult to facilitate. This is largely due to the limited knowledge and experience that teachers have with online learning. A second major issue is the limited structure to support online learning in places such as Haiti (e.g. teachers might not have computers or may have a difficult time paying for Internet access).

Although the second issue is largely beyond our control, we are finding that teachers are increasingly accessing the Internet and are purchasing (usually used) laptops, tablet computers, or phones.

We are addressing the first issue (limited exposure to online learning) through the Educator and Leadership Institute which we are involved with this week in Cap-Haitien, Haiti. Through the support of Desire2Learn, we have been able to develop three basic online professional development courses: General Teaching, Mathematics, and Science.

Yesterday, we inquired of our 200 participants who might be interested in participating in this pilot project AND who had regular access to a computer and the Internet. Nearly 80 people responded! Today, we provided a very basic introduction to online learning. We have already had 10 log in and begin exploring resources and posting comments!

Over the next few weeks, we will be releasing new aspects of the courses so that the participants can access resources and engage in discussions online. A research study is accompanying this project to study the challenges and barriers that participants experience as well as how the online experience may contribute to their confidence (efficacy) as teachers.

The examination of online teacher professional development in fragile contexts has had limited study. Our work in Haiti will certainly contribute to this knowledge that so that student learning and outcomes can be improved, not just in the developed countries of the world, but in all contexts.

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