OISE Continuing & Professional Learning welcomes thousands of professional learners to our online courses and programs each year. Because our extended team 150+ sessional facilitators are key to creating great professional teaching and learning environments for our learners, in 2020-21, our team of Portfolio Solutions Officers took the initiative to review the needs of sessional facilitators and identify opportunities to improve their experience within the unit. Their analysis highlighted a need to support the growth of our sessional facilitators’ skills and confidence in navigating the complexities of online teaching and learning environments for diverse adult learner audiences. Their study also highlighted a need for greater community connection, peer support and networking opportunities.
In response, in 2021-2022, the team led the introduction of professional learning communities (PLC) for our sessional facilitators from our Workplace Learning and Pre-K – 12 portfolios. Aligned to the OISE CPL teaching and learning model, the team’s goals for the PLC were simple:
1) Curate topical professional learning inquiries aligned to facilitator-identified interest and need, and
2) Create a virtual space for sessional facilitators to engage with each other and with the OISE CPL administrative team in a more flexible, timely and meaningful way.
Through collaboration, creativity and iteration, the online Connected Facilitators Community was born, which included an “Advancing our Practice” (AoP) professional development series. Now in full-swing, our team continues to lead the online forum for facilitators while also curating the design, development and hosting of various virtual events aligned to sessional facilitator interests, learner feedback, and the OISE CPL strategic plan. We have observed an enhanced team culture among our facilitator community, and significant advancements in communication, as well as administrative process improvements. Most important, OISE CPL facilitators have expressed their experience in the Professional Learning Community has not only informed their teaching practice and provided opportunities for cross-CPL peer collaboration, it has improved their overall confidence in facilitating online learning environment, which in turn has led to a positive impact in our learners’ course experiences.
Kudos to this OISE CPL dream team for leading this process and organisational innovation that is actively informing our approaches to professional learning experiences for broader CPL learner audiences!