Like so many of us around the globe, the team of educators at Cyril Potter College of Education in Georgetown, Guyana have had plenty to adapt to since COVID-19 struck 18 months ago.
The College has traditionally offered its programmes using a face-to-face modality, with some distance training for teachers already in the system, primarily print-based with some face-to-face tutorials.
With support from COL’s Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth (VUSSC) to launch a Moodle online platform, the College is now offering courses online, expanding access to education for teacher trainees once the pandemic hit and in-person instruction vanished overnight.
As a result of the VUSSC project and a series of faculty training activities, the College’s student population has skyrocketed from a traditional 500 or so trainees per year to more than 3,000 trainees spread across the entire country, creating new challenges and opportunities for all involved.
Cyril Potter College of Education Principal, Dr. Viola Rowe, has led the team of educators on this rapidly evolving journey, as they work hard to meet all of their learners’ needs in the new Moodle environment.
As Acting Vice Principal, Curriculum and Instruction, Ms. Kevaun Sears, was the one tapped to serve as the project liaison between COL and the College to enable the modality shift.
“Some of the more remote areas of Guyana being very poorly served with internet connections, so resources and local infrastructure are distinct challenges for us,” Kevaun explains. “So, we’re making good progress but we’re only scratching the surface of what’s available with Moodle at this point.”
The Guyanese government has committed to improving infrastructure but it can’t come fast enough for the Cyril Potter team, who see plenty of opportunity for expanding offerings for various types of learners.
“We’re wanting to use Moodle to offer a teacher upgrading programme for teachers who are missing one or two of the key subject areas such as Maths, Language, Social Studies or Science,” Kevaun adds.
She sees the shift as exciting and offering excellent opportunities for removing physical restrictions and growing student quality and motivating and encouraging student engagement for attending the training in person. However, she’s well aware that, for some of her learners, this is their first exposure to the distance learning modality.
“We’re not just delivering teacher training at this point, we’re also teaching how to learn via distance,” Kevaun summarizes. “But we don’t see ourselves going back to fully in-person.”
Next steps include converting the college’s three-year programme for teacher training completely for online delivery, a task the team will have to juggle with other priorities.