Some 500 school leaders are currently participating in the Virtual Instructional Leadership (VIL) online course, which will equip them with the necessary skills and competencies to effectively manage their schools remotely.
The course targets principals and vice-principals in early-childhood, primary and secondary schools across the six educational administrative regions.
It was developed by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, through the National College for Educational Leadership (NCEL), in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The course is designed to support principals’ management and supervision of teachers using e-learning platforms.
Additionally, it provides a strong foundation for teaching with technology and explores distance learning design and delivery while providing strategies for instructional supervision and management and sustainability of the school’s e-infrastructure.
Upon completion of the course, participants will be able to use digital collaborative tools to enhance administrative duties from a distance, develop accountability systems to guide virtual engagement and supervision of staff, and make educated decisions about the adoption of Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) and digital tools to support teaching and learning in their respective contexts.
Participants will also be able to coach their staff members on the use of a selected online platform, to enhance students’ learning experiences; indicate psycho-social support systems/strategies to support teachers’ professional growth in a crisis; assess the information and communications technology (ICT) capability of their individual schools; provide recommendations for addressing challenges associated with transitioning to distance learning; and conduct a feasibility assessment to determine the most appropriate VLE for their unique school contexts.
Speaking today (June 1) at the online launch of the Virtual Instructional Leadership course, Director/Principal of the National College for Educational Leadership, Dr. Taneisha Ingleton, said the course has been successfully piloted by 47 participants, including education officers, principals and vice principals from private and public schools.
“The VIL is designed to last. It is sustainable in that it will be permanently available on the Learning Management System at the NCEL. It can be viewed or enhanced in keeping with the changes in policies, expectations and technology,” Dr. Ingleton said.
“The course is inclusive. It can be accessed by our leaders with special needs, as we have embedded closed caption for the international videos and signing for the local videos. We have audios for the essential readings, and we welcome the aids for our special needs principals to access,” she added.
Dr. Ingleton informed that seven special needs school leaders are registered for the course.
She further noted that the course is convenient, as it can be accessed at any time, and that it is free of cost.
“It is also scalable. We can add resources to meet the demands of the system and we can alter it to suit the changing levels of demand,” Dr. Ingleton said.
Country Representative, UNICEF, Mariko Kagoshima, noted that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education systems is far-reaching throughout the world.
She explained that this rapid shift to remote schooling poses a challenge for school administrators as they are expected to adapt and effectively demonstrate their leadership skills of managing instruction, curriculum, staff and standards in an online setting.
“Their ability to lead instruction effectively in a virtual space will depend largely on their expertise with technology and knowledge of the various tools, resources, platforms and practices of leading remotely. Therefore, the principal’s technical, social, cognitive and behavioural capabilities must be developed to effectively lead in a virtual setting,” Ms. Kagoshima said.
The Country Representative said the course is consistent with the Ministry’s priorities to employ ICT as a key 21st century tools to improve educational outcomes at all levels of the education system.
“Specifically, the course supports principals’ management and supervision of teachers using e-learning platforms. It gives a strong foundation for teaching with technology, including strategies for instructional supervision, responding to the Ministry’s reporting obligations and supporting professional development and sustainability of the school’s e-infrastructure, while putting students and their families at the centre of it all,” Ms. Kagoshima said.
Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Dr. Grace McLean, said current and future principals will increasingly find themselves in positions with responsibility for online leadership.
“With increased accountability for all administrators through governmental programmes and increased scrutiny of online education during an economic crisis and in this case a health crisis, how principals meet this new responsibility will help to determine the online school’s viability in terms of teachers’ performance and students’ learning,” Dr. McLean said.
She pointed out that the course will help school leaders to develop the tools needed to guide their instructions in this new era.
The training for the first cohort of 500 school leaders will go from June 1 to June 10. The second batch of 500 school leaders will be trained from June 15 to June 25.