The Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) has launched an e-learning course for its members. The six-module course is expected to be accessed by some 400 teachers who are making the transition from mainstream primary teaching to learning support/resource teaching roles.
“This new initiative by INTO will allow teachers nationwide, regardless of location, to access high-quality course material. It enables teachers to combine work-life schedules with in-career professional development. We have also built in online group discussions and face-to-face group meetings to support online resources,” said John Carr, INTO general secretary.
The e-learning course coincides with the Department of Education and Science’s introduction of the General Allocation System to cater for children with special educational needs in the primary-school system. Schools have been given a permanent allocation of learning support/resource teachers to cater for the majority of these children.
The first module of the course went live on 12 September. Participating teachers are divided into a dozen groups according to their geographical location, with a facilitator assigned to each one. Each week, individual groups will have an opportunity participate in an online chat session hosted by their facilitator. This will allow participants to discuss module content and share best practice and ideas online via an instant messaging service. Face-to-face meetings are also scheduled to allow each group to meet each other and their facilitator.
Dan King, sales and marketing manager for Hosting365, which is hosting the website, stresses the importance of the internet to distance learning. “The availability of broadband across the country has opened the doors to effective online learning techniques that would not have been possible pre-broadband. For example, this course is supported by images and illustrations, which take time to load via dialup. The introduction of instant messaging is also not possible without broadband.”
By Brian Skelly