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PLP Now Involves All Members

Hundreds of Courses
Offered Online

OntarioLearn is a consortium of the province’s 22 English-language community colleges who have pooled
their online courses to make them available all over the province.

For example, people living in Sault Ste. Marie can register at Sault College and take courses offered by Loyalist College in Belleville or Confederation College in Thunder Bay.

This offers a much wider array of educational opportunities to those not living close to a community college than would otherwise be possible and has proved very popular.

Students pay $4 a credit hour on average for each course and most courses are in the 30 - to 40 -hour range. There’s also a registration fee to be paid and a fee for the service provider, Embanet, which is still more affordable that having to travel.

Loyalist College, which hosts close to 300 of the courses, is an approved provider for the College’s Professional Learning Program, which means members of the College can register with Loyalist and receive PLP credit for completing approved courses. Other partner colleges are also expected to seek approved provider status.

Students register through the community college closest to them. An instructor is available via e-mail to answer questions, encourage discussion on course topics and provide feedback.

All students enrolled with receive a con- firmation package that contains instructions on how to access the online course, information on purchasing course texts and materials and information on how to get involved in online discussions with the course instructor and others taking the same material. Students receive and submit coursework electronically.

If a final exam is required, it can be arranged to be written on campus. Since OntarioLearn does not yet offer tests online, the evaluation component of each course is the only time students need to attend their home college. But where distance makes that difficult, a sponsor such as the principal of a local school can be enlisted to oversee the exam.

“One of the elements missing from all this is francophone courses online,” says Dan Holland, from Loyalist College. “We built OntarioLearn with no funding at all, and it has outgrown all our expectations. We don’t have the finances to make them available in French. But we have the network set up now. If the Frenchlanguage colleges want to develop courses and put them on Ontario-Learn, that would be great."


List of Approved Courses Growing Rapidly

ALL members of the College have now officially begun their first Professional Learning Program (PLP) cycle. Under the terms of the Stability and Excellence in Education Act, the College was required to inform all members whose PLP cycles didn’t officially begin last fall.

“We’re pleased to see the numbers and variety of courses and activities available for College members growing so rapidly,” says Rick Chambers, manager of the Professional Learning Unit of the College.

“More than 300 providers across the province currently offer 1,300 professional learning activities for PLP credit. We’ll continue to put our energies into ensuring that each member has a wide range of choices in designing their personal program of professional learning.”

The College implemented the program in two stages, notifying 40,000 College members and new graduates in 2001 that they had been randomly chosen to begin the program.

In early July, the College notified the balance of the membership—about 130,000 teachers, principals, private school teachers, superintendents, teachers who work for the Ministry of Education or the College of Teachers and anyone who needs a teaching certificate to do their job—that their first Professional Learning Program cycle would begin September 1, 2002 and end December 31, 2007.

“Whatever the beginning or end date of your PLP cycle, if you completed approved professional learning courses since June 30, 2001, you can receive PLP credit for them,” says Chambers. “We’re continuing to stress that message to both College members and course providers.”

Many College members spend a good part of their summer taking Additional Qualification (AQ) courses and this past year has been no exception. The Ontario Institute Studies in Education of the University of Toronto reports that enrolment in its AQ courses was up 30 per cent over the previous year. Each AQ earns

“It’s very encouraging to see teachers continuing to make the professional learning choices they have always made and be eligible to receive additional benefits in the form of professional learning credits," says Chambers.

Members can also earn one or more credits in a variety of activities that include research, conferences, workshops, summer institutes, networking and mentoring, committee work and many other professional contributions.

The most up-to-date information about the PLP and approved providers and courses is always available at > Professional Learning Program.


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