Seven Myths About the Professional Learning Program
There are a lot of misconceptions among College members about the Professional Learning Program. Hereís a clarification of some of the issues that members have raised with College staff.
The Professional Learning Program takes away my ability to choose the professional learning activities I think are most appropriate for me.
Fact: The College has approved for credit with the Professional Learning Program hundreds of courses or activities that are popular with teachers Ė and thatís just the beginning.
Any activity that a teacher believes would advance their professional development is eligible for PLP credit. If the provider of a course or activity you are interested in has not yet applied for approval, ask them to contact the College.
The program is designed to give teachers a very wide range of professional learning choices.
I already work very long hours and the Professional Learning Program will require an additional block of time that I just donít have.
Fact: Professional Learning Program courses, including assessment, must be at least five hours long, which equals a minimum of 70 hours over five years. That means the minimum amount of time that you must spend on activities approved for credit with the Professional Learning Program works out to two days a year.
Of course, many teachers will choose to take courses or programs that will require more time, but given the range of activities that will be available, teachers should have no trouble finding activities to fit their schedule.
Iíll have to write a test every time I attend a workshop or a conference that is approved for the program.
Fact: By law, every activity approved for the PLP must have an assessment component but College guidelines require that the assessment be appropriate for adult learning. A written question and answer test is not likely to be appropriate in most cases. The College encourages providers to be thoughtful and creative in how they assess participantsí participation and learning.
Each of the 14 courses I have to take is going to cost me a lot of money. In all, it could add up to thousands of dollars.
Fact: Professional learning isnít going to cost you any more than it has to date and it may cost you less. Many activities offered by school boards and professional and subject associations will be free or offered at a nominal cost. The College web site currently lists dozens of courses being offered by school boards.
There are many other examples of courses available for low cost.
A consortium of community colleges in Ontario have formed OntarioLearn, which offers more than 350 online courses with tuition of approximately $4 per credit hour. Other activities such as courses, workshops and conferences will cost the same as they did before the Professional Learning Program was introduced.
Courses offered by commercial providers are also likely to be affordable. Providers will be competing for the participation of 185,000 teachers in Ontario and quality and price will be decisive factors in determining a courseís popularity.
I live in a remote area and wonít have access to courses.
Fact: The College is encouraging providers to offer courses online, and providers who already offer distance education courses are submitting them to the College for approval.
The Ottawa-Carleton Catholic School Board has designed 28 online courses, four under each of the seven core areas, to be offered at a low cost. The course material will also be available on CD-ROM.
OntarioLearn, a consortium of community colleges, has 350 courses online and adds more every year. Athabasca University offers about 550 courses online and will eventually seek to have all of them approved for PLP credit. The number and variety of courses offered online is likely to increase steadily.
Iím going to have to change the professional learning that I find most useful. A lot of the professional learning I do Ė attending conferences and summer institutes Ė wonít qualify for the PLP.
Fact: Yes, it will. Organizations that sponsor conferences or offer summer institutes can apply for PLP approval. The Professional Learning Committee has already determined that conferences, workshops, summer institutes, curriculum writing, research projects, as well as the development and presentation of professional learning activities, will count for anywhere from one to three PLP credits.
I already have problems getting professional learning near my home in French. How am I going to find 14 courses?
Fact: At least 11 French-language school boards and two professional associations have been approved for the PLP and are offering courses in French. Moreover, the College is encouraging providers to provide activities in French, where the demand exists, and is encouraging organizations to offer approved courses online. College members living in smaller centres and French-language teachers are likely to find more professional learning activities to choose from than ever before.
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