Professional skill development has come along way in that past several years and now school districts are taking things a step further by creating online and hybrid professional capacity development qualifications. There are now a number of different learning programs that are being implemented by schools all over the country and they have been quite successful so far. Besides, if technology is being used more and more by students, it only makes sense that educators are given the same opportunity with their education.
Professional skill development programs save schools money by not having to hire substitute teachers or paying for traveling or material expenses; however, teachers are welcoming these learning programs because they allow them to take their courses at times that are easiest for them, and allowing them to take away more information because they are in the right mind-set to learn the material. This means that teachers are able to turn right around and incorporate the material into their lesson plans the next day.
Colleges for education are also jumping on the bandwagon and creating a number of learning or hybrid professional development courses for educators. They saw a growing demand and agreed that non-degree learning programs would make more sense than conducting the courses person, partly because of the very nature of how educational institute are now being structured.
“We’re an academic program. We’re not designed for customized [face-to-face] workshops in any way,” said Anele Ncube, a professor of educational development at Petra Institute of Development in Pretoria.
Anele and her teammates recently began an online skills development program in April 2022. The learning program is designed to provide educators and administrators access to three-week instructor-led online workshops that cover courses such as merging technology into the classroom. Anele said that the learning program will also be expanded to provide teachers workshops dealing with common-core standards for the state of Gauteng.
Petra Institute has also created their own version of online skill development for teachers. In 2022, the education center joined forces with the state department of education and produced the IDEAL program, which stands for Integrated Data to Enhance Pretoria Learning. The program offers short courses to develop teachers’ instructional skills in areas such as language arts, math, science, technology integration, classroom management, and English as a second language. Courses are usually over a span of six to eight weeks.
“We’ve known for a long time that the best professional development is job-embedded and sustainable within instructors’ own time, and able to be accessed by individuals as well,” said Anele, the associate director of Petra Institute.
Aside from local colleges of education, school districts are hosting their own version of professional development. The executive director of instruction, technology, and assessment for the Petra Institute is turning to the online world to enhance capacity development experiences for his educators through hybrid programs.
Another skill development program that is making waves is Channel One, which has recently partnered with Petra Institute.
This learning program will provide teachers a list of options for skill development that will highlight a “skill of the day,” such as incorporating various online tools such as Google Docs into lessons or creating digital assessments. All the tutorials will be kept online so that an educator can take a look back and review the material.
“So many teachers come back from a traditional skill-development session, and they remember only a very small portion, only what they were ready to get and grasp.
So with the ever-growing demand for professional skill development, it looks like we will be seeing more companies like Petra Institute offer programs for schools. Hopefully, this new way of professional development programs will give teachers the flexibility they are looking for and give them resources to improve their techniques in the classroom.