On the 22nd March 2012, the Regional Training Unit (RTU) for N Ireland, celebrated its final graduation for the Online Learning and Teaching for Educators (OLTE) Programme in the Craigantlet Room, Stranmillis University College Belfast. This year seventy six post-primary teachers from across Northern Ireland schools, including Head of Irish at St Paul’s, Miss Ciara McCoy successfully completed the RTU’s Online Learning and Teaching for Educators (OLTE) Programme. The keynote speaker at this year’s ceremony was Mr John Anderson, Managing Inspector ETI. Mr Anderson paid tribute to the success and quality OLTE has achieved over the years, in particular he said, “One of OLTE’s strategic gains has been to disseminate OLTE graduates’ e-learning knowledge and skills and consequently widen curriculum choice and foster collaboration across schools. And in that it has been most successful Because of OLTE, We are set up for online and digital success “.
The Regional Training Unit (RTU) developed the OLTE programme in 2003 to meet the Department of Education’s (DE) requirement for a continuous professional development (CPD) programme that would help address the overarching goal of the Education Technology Strategy “That all young people should be learning, with, through and about the use of digital and online technologies”.
The OLTE programme, which focuses on the development of online tutors skills, is accredited at Level 4 by the National Open College Network. The participants complete 3 progressively challenging units: Unit 1- Introduction to Online Tutor Skills, Unit 2 – Design, implement and tutor an online lesson and Unit 3 – Design, implement and tutor an online programme. To date the final number of OLTE graduates is 154 teachers from 95 post primary schools. They have provided more than 2000 participants with first-hand experience of learning in an online environment.
From 2007/08 the Department of Education funded post-primary teachers’ places on the OLTE programme. Teachers were able to avail of a CPD programme which requires them to reflect on their practice, develop resources, plan for delivery, teach and assess their pupils in an online environment. This valuable CPD opportunity allows teachers to revisit many of the GTC Professional Competences and can be used towards Performance Review and Staff Development (PRSD) requirements. The current OLTE Graduates developed and delivered a variety of online courses to pupils from across a range of post-primary schools including, for example, aspects of GCSE Music, GCSE Geography, GCSE Irish, and AS Psychology.
The Online Learning and Teaching for Educators (OLTE) Programme has now come to an end but there is a significant pool of qualified teachers within the education sector who are in a position to continue developing online courses for schools. This is evidenced by the OLTE Graduates who have gone on to develop online courses in AS Product Design, AS French, GCSE Irish, AS History and BTec Engineering for blended-course delivery.