PSS distance education gears up for fall 2018

Thirty online educators from the across the Commonwealth participate in professional development training to gear up for the opening of the online fall 2018 semester. (Contributed Photo)

Thirty online educators from the across the Commonwealth gathered to participate in professional development to gear up for the opening of the online fall 2018 semester.

The workshop focused on strategies to enhance instructor and social presence in the online learning environment.

The workshop was led by Instructional Technology Program leaders Dr. Bobby Cruz and Lorraine Catienza.

“We’re always excited to convene with our eTeachers. They’re the backbone of the success of the program,” said Cruz.

“It’s important to gather and reflect as a team on our practices, especially those that are instructional, and set goals that will help our student more effectively learn online. Our goal this year is to improve teacher and student social presence in the online learning environment. The topic of social presence was driven by the voice of our students,” Cruz added.

In addition, teachers were provided best practices for improving retention rates among online students. Participants in the workshop included interim Education commissioner Glenn Muña, and associate commissioner of Student and Support Services Dr. Yvonne Pangelinan.

“Distance Education is essential in creating opportunities by leveraging the power of technology to provide more equitable access for students across the CNMI,” said Pangelinan. “We’re leaders in the region because we are committed to innovating and improving.”

The CNMI Public School System Distance Education Program has been offering online courses to both public and private school students for the past seven years.

Course offerings include core content subjects such as math, science, language arts, and social studies. Elective offerings include Intro to Digital Photography, Journalism, and Creative Writing courses.

The program was first established to support teacher shortages among CNMI public schools in 2012, but has since grown to support the enrichment and advancement of high school students.

Catienza said, “The Distance Program is committed to continuous improvement. Each year we work with our eTeachers to assess a range of data that includes student course evaluation. We use the input of the students we serve to refine and improve our offerings to ensure quality teaching and learning.” (PR)

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