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29.01.2020 - 3 min. Read

5 things you should know about professional development with Ontario Extend

Ontario Extend is a professional development program aimed at preparing educators and support staff for the digital future of teaching and learning. Now in its third iteration, the program has seen over 300 badges earned by Ontario education professionals looking to build digital fluency in their practice. The modules are completed online and at one’s own pace: Start, pause and pick up your learning whenever it suits your schedule. Complete all six modules to be eligible for the capstone Empowered Educator Badge. In this interview, Lindsay Woodside, an eCampusOntario’s program manager, talks about how Ontario Extend can be adopted to guide technology-enabled practices in the classroom or elsewhere.

What’s new with the Ontario Extend program?
We are in the process of completing a refresh of both the English and French versions of the Extend modules, with the release of this newly updated content anticipated for spring 2020. In the meantime, the six modules are still freely available online, to be completed at your leisure, with an awarded digital badge upon successful completion of each. You could be well on your way to joining 32 empowered educators across Ontario who have completed all six modules.

Who is Extend designed for and what kind of material is taught?
Extend is a professional learning opportunity for anyone who is interested in building up digital skills for teaching and learning. Educators, instructional designers, educational technologists, librarians and grad students are just some of the professionals who engage in Ontario Extend.

Participants in Extend have the opportunity to experiment with innovative teaching and learning approaches that can help refine technology-enabled practice. Activities build strategies for professional collaboration, personal learning networks, design thinking, digital literacy, scholarly teaching and curation of open educational resources. These are just some of areas that participants explore in the Extend program.

What makes Extend a valuable resource for professional development? Many professionals appreciate the external recognition that comes from a system-wide body that represents all of the institutions in the province. Ontario Extend works to augment existing teaching and learning programming within one’s institution by enabling education professionals to collaborate with peers from across the province.

What do you think would surprise people about being part of the Extend community?
I think a surprising facet of Extend is the authentic opportunity for academic community building within this program. Not only can Ontario Extend impact one’s teaching philosophies and attitudes toward digital fluency, but by engaging in the program, one can “extend” their community of practice to include colleagues across Ontario. The possibilities for conversations, networking, information sharing, and community building are endless.

How can people get involved?
Head over to the Ontario Extend website to access the modules and learn more about the program’s origins and badging platform. Once the new program content is released this spring, you will be able to access a new technology toolkit, community discussion space and a refined activity bank. You can follow @OntarioExtend on Twitter to receive updates and connect with other Extend participants or contact the team for more information at extend@ecampusontario.ca.