UNESCO and Blackboard launch pilot project for distance education teachers training in the Caribbean

Distance learning has been a challenge during the crisis, with many problems in remote areas, including little or no connectivity, lack of access to online educational assessment tools and the unwillingness of teachers to move from traditional classroom teaching to online environments.

Under the Global Education Coalition, UNESCO and Blackboard launched the pilot project "Professional Development for Teachers for Blended Learning and Online Strategies", a four-week teachers training that aims to develop teachers' capacity in distance and blended learning. The virtual launch took place on August 24, 2020 with more than 60 participants, with two teacher representatives from each of the participating countries in the English and Dutch Caribbean.

It is more important now than at any other time that teachers develop best practices for delivering engaging and sustainable online learning environments. The COVID-19 pandemic has altered how teachers around the world have to connect with students while school buildings remain shuttered.
Lee Blakemore, Blackboard Chief Client Officer and President Global Markets

For this initiative, UNESCO, in cooperation with the regional ministries of education, is selecting the 40 facilitators from the English and Dutch Caribbean who will be trained during a four- week online workshop by the Blackboard Academy at K-12, elementary and secondary levels with strategies for designing the online classroom. Whether teachers plan to use a blended classroom or a fully online one, this course supports them to ease the transition in creating an online class environment that meets the needs of both students and teachers.

I expect from the Blackboard Academy training to gain knowledge on online teaching tools and strategies and to share knowledge with my teacher colleagues in Belize, so we all contribute to a better education system
Darlene Lozano, teacher and participant from Belize

Participants will be assessed and, if successful, certified by Blackboard in co-operation with its academic partners. Those facilitators will engage as "master trainers" in the Caribbean sub-region as experts in blended and online learning strategies to train 200 teachers, 10 per country, with the skills to apply innovative online and blended teaching methods or adaptive pedagogies in the new teaching and learning situation in the time of COVID-19. In addition, the initiative strengthens the teachers' ability to respond to the current crisis in the local environment and to strengthen the resilience of the sub-region's education systems to future shocks.

In addition, the course will include methods to confront learners online with different learning styles and needs, as an online classroom presents different challenges than a traditional classroom where teachers can oversee lessons and monitor student attention.

The topics covered in the workshop will focus on online educational methods, including the use of educational videos and interactive platforms, as well as the use of web conferencing tools such as zooming, online task creation and quizzes, the selection of high quality online educational resources, and also a workshop day on online delivery pedagogy to engage students through online learning.