Educational Services Division
Transforming Teaching and Learning—Through eLearning
What do online discussions, collaborative presentations, online quizzes, virtual mindmaps, closed captioned videos, and digital portfolios have in common? They are all effective strategies to assist students in learning in an online environment. They also happen to be the significant components and artifacts of learning in a new, online and blended (includes both online and face-to-face) teacher certification. Leading Edge Certification (LEC) is a national certification program in educational technology and curriculum innovation. Created by an alliance of nonprofits, universities and educational agencies including the Santa Cruz County Office of Education, LEC Online and Blended Teacher Certification guides educators through a curriculum based on the iNACOL National Quality Standards for Online Teaching. Upon successful completion, the certification gives assurance that Leading Edge Certified Online and Blended Teachers not only have the skills to effectively facilitate online or blended courses, but also have a solid understanding of how to enhance the learning opportunities for all students enrolled in their courses. Why online learning? According to Clayton Christensen and Michael Horn in the book Disrupting Class, from 2012-2018 the amount of online courses taken as compared to traditional courses will grow from 5% to 50% nationwide! We need to begin preparing our teachers today.
This certification is an intensive 40+ hour course providing educators with innovative approaches to teaching and learning. As a member of the alliance, the Santa Cruz County Office of Education is an authorized provider of LEC Certification, and several SCCOE employees have earned the certification to deliver the training online and in a blended learning format.
The first two cohorts of teachers began in early summer 2012. One cohort was comprised of sixteen Santa Cruz County Office of Education teachers taught by Dr. Kelly Schwirzke, Alternative Education Instructor. A second cohort included teachers from Pajaro Valley Unified School District, San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District, and Santa Cruz County ROP, and was taught by instructional technology leaders at the Santa Cruz County Office of Education.
The course began with a face-to-face meeting in the computer lab at the Santa Cruz County Office of Education. Teachers were introduced to the certification program and online and blended learning including the National Standards for Quality Online Teaching, created by the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL). Teachers practiced using online creation tools by creating an autobiographical wiki that included links, videos, images, lesson plans, projects and assessments. A wiki was used through all of the eight modules for teachers to demonstrate their learning and review one anotherís work.
After the initial face-to-face meeting all activities occurred online which helped to model online teaching and learning. Each module built upon what was previously taught and included focus on effective teaching strategies in an online environment including how to build community, engage students in collaborative projects, assure content is accessible by students with vision and/or sight impairments, evaluate students in content mastery and ensure academic integrity. The culmination of the 8-week course is the completion of a digital portfolio (ePortfolio) showcasing the teacherís understanding and mastery of effective instructional practice in an online or blended learning environment. View some of the completed portfolios here:
A third cohort of teachers began in the fall and are finalizing their portfolios following the same format and coursework as above. By the end of 2012, Santa Cruz County will have successfully prepared and certified more than 30 educators.
The Santa Cruz County Office of Education is a statewide and national leader in online learning advocacy, policy, and practice. Being part of the certification program in its infancy enables teachers in Santa Cruz County to be at the forefront of the shifting landscape of education in preparing students for college and careers that involve virtual and online work, collaboration, and life-long learning.
The SCCOE, through their partnerships, will continue to offer Leading Edge Certification for the Online and Blended Teacher and other certificates as they become available. Leading Edge Certification for the Administrator just recently launched and the development of the Digital Educator, Librarian, and Professional Developer are not far behind!
Learn more about the COEís LEC offerings.