As I learned about Veola Stewart’s story one week after the unprecedented destruction by hurricane Dorian, I was reminded of how distance education started out as a necessity, and not just a convenience. “I am a product of online education”, says Veola. A few years ago, she was a teacher in a rural area in her home country of The Bahamas. Online education enabled her to complete her master’s degree in Education.
“I wouldn’t have been able to achieve my goal of obtaining a master’s degree without online education as there wasn’t any tertiary institution at the graduate level on my island,” she says.
Geographic characteristics have made online education a challenge but also a necessity for many in the Caribbean. Veola is the Subject Coordinator for the School of Business and Technology at C.R. Walker Senior High School in Nassau. As part of her professional development, Veola has seen the need to get proper training in online learning. “I believe that online learning is vital in my line of work as an educator. Online learning provides an avenue for learning to take place regardless of a person’s geographic location. It changes how people learn and participate in professional development training.”
Veola reminds us of the limitations of island countries. “The Bahamas is comprised of 700 islands and Cays. Teachers might not be available physically to educate persons on every island, but fortunately, with the use of the internet and technology, students could still have access to quality education. In my region and country, The Bahamas Virtual School has recently been introduced. The Ministry of Education is utilizing teachers to educate students that don’t have an available teacher on their island. I believe that online education is constantly increasing in my region and throughout my archipelagic country.”
Veola has come full circle with online education. In 2018, she participated in a life-changing course that was offered fully online through IDB. She wishes to become an online professor. “The Online Teacher Training course has given me the fundamentals to prepare me to be an online professor. I am now pursuing becoming an online professor with the University of the West Indies (UWI).” She will now be able to help students, like herself, to overcome the limitations of their surroundings and advance in their careers.
Like Veola, Samantha Roach has always been interested in online education. With over 14 years as an educator, Samantha was the Lead and Senior lecturer at a National College in Trinidad and Tobago that offered bachelors and associate degrees, as well as certificate programs in blended format (a combination of online and face-to-face delivery). The college was going through a significant transition to fully online classes. For her, the course offered through IDB, provided her with the “foundational skills necessary to build an online class, which created a sense of community as well as the key skills in online assessments for online courses and knowledge of the various tools used in online learning.” She was so pleased with the experience that she recommended the course to many of her colleagues who were also going through the same kind of transition to online teaching.
Samantha agrees with Veola on the importance of online learning in her region: “Given the geographical constraints of the Caribbean region, many people resort to working, and later on, re-enter the education market to earn a college diploma or university degree. Many who have desired to return to school, will have access, with no one being left behind in accessing higher education. This builds capacity and can stimulate growth and development in the region through the increase in human capital.”
This coming October, IDB will once again offer its online training course fully online. It is a great opportunity for various professionals in higher education, government and corporate sector to acquire key competencies in delivering quality online education in their professional settings.
To see more and apply to take the course, click here: https://cursos.iadb.org/en/indes/online-teacher-training.
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