Barbadian educators now have access to a suite of online courses that support their professional development.
The 21st Century Educators’ Hub on the NTI Coursera training platform was developed through a partnership comprising the National Transformation Initiative (NTI), Coursera, the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training (METVT), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Erdiston Teachers Training College (ETTC).
NTI Director Dr. Allyson Leacock was enthusiastic about the partnership: “NTI welcomes this initiative, which allows us to partner with a pivotal ministry that has various target groups that could benefit from NTI’s offerings through our LMS and our Coursera training tracks.
“The inclusion of ETTC is significant because its leaders are actively involved in ensuring that their faculty is not only knowledgeable about the content for instruction but can use it themselves to upgrade their skills. Additionally, since the METVT is creating a digital skills syllabus for the school system, it is also an opportunity for teachers to sharpen their digital skills,” she added.
During the press conference to launch the hub, education minister Kay McConney lauded the NTI and Coursera team. Further, she noted that the partnership is “designed specifically to improve the quality of education through the provision of professional development courses for educators and education leaders. It is intended not only to address the skill gaps that we currently have but also to bring innovative content with a local flavour to support our national ambition in new and interesting areas.”
Other speakers included Dr. Ramona Archer-Bradshaw, Chief Education Officer; Nicole Amaral, Coursera Skills Transformation Lead for Latin America and the Caribbean; Marcelle Greenidge, NTI Assistant Director, Coursera, Communications, Client Success; Viviana Del Carmen Alva Hart, Country Representative, IDB; and Dr. Colin Cumberbatch, Principal of ETTC, all of whom reinforced the benefits and opportunities the hub presented.
A pilot, which took place during the Easter break, exposed educators to a selection of courses. The most popular of these included Performance Assessment in the Virtual Classroom, and Socioemotional Learning for Students: A Path to Social and Emotional Wellbeing.
“NTI, Coursera and the ministry worked collaboratively, in record time, to make this 21st Century Educators’ Hub a reality on our platform training.nti.org.bb. It highlights the effective alignment of partnerships for professional progress not only in education but across Barbados. It is a model we hope can be emulated across other sectors,” Dr. Leacock stressed.
The 21st Educators’ Hub, like all training programmes on the NTI Coursera platform, features accredited courses and projects certified by top global institutions and organisations. In his testimonial about the quality of the courses, ETTC Principal, Dr Cumberbatch, provided insights into the Inclusive Leadership: The Power of Workplace Diversity course in which he was enrolled. Though highly qualified having studied to doctoral level, he explained that the course was “an eye-opener”.
In explaining having to confront hitherto unrecognised benefits he unwittingly enjoys, he said: “I was still not anticipating some of the inherent challenges that I have, even as a leader, because that course identified, for me, issues of privilege. Now I would have never in my wildest dreams thought that I would be privileged, but when I examined in greater detail what they defined as privilege, I realised that being male, having my stature, age, skin colour, all of those can be deemed privilege in any context of education. That broad notion of privilege that I would have never thought about, I now have registering all through my mind, every day, as I walk into my job.”
This commitment to lifelong learning is the foundation on which both the NTI and Coursera are established: “We are really building a new ecosystem of upskilling in Barbados, and we’re honoured to have that responsibility, but more so, the power of the partnerships that we see here today represent the potential for 120 000 Barbadians utilising those 20 000 licenses that the government purchased for the people of Barbados and another 20 000 scholarships that Google gifted to Barbados to ensure that no stone was left unturned,” Dr. Leacock stated.