This was the dilemma faced by Online Business School as they received a string of enquiries from overseas organisations complaining about the dearth of teacher training opportunities. Online Business School is well versed in delivering online university pathway programmes in business and management; as their model is devised around a social learning platform with comprehensive core materials, social learning groups that can interact 24/7 and a range of complementary learning products for those who seek supplemental learning. However, teacher training is different; it needs practice, observation, and portfolio evidence as well as the core learning curriculum.
It seems to be that issues in other countries are also experienced here in UK. A limited number of qualified teachers coming through; insufficient resources and infrastructure to accelerate the pipeline, and not enough individuals to teach educators on best practice. Online Business School received enquiries from Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh and various other regions, as well as the well documented needs in UK before taking up the challenge of developing a ‘fit for purpose’ programme that could be delivered off campus. A hybrid solution was required and online can be an appropriate and valid solution if it focuses not only to the conventional learning content, but also other areas of observation, practice and portfolio building.
The approach of the Online Business School programme is to use a conventional online model that sits comfortably with their social learning platform to deliver the formal content and generic learning outcomes. There are several core areas such as: lesson planning, evaluation, assessment, inclusiveness, case studies and more that can be addressed by the conventional model. Core materials are available to students and they can form their own learning groups, post resources and search for resources; in addition to purchasing additional online/Skype tutor support or webinar support if they require it, and the materials, social contact and optional resources are available 24/7 via an app on any device. At the key stages of learning, students submit fairly conventional written assignments that are verified by their ‘Personal Mentor’. The student appoints their own mentor prior to starting the programme and they are verified in various ways by Online Business School, creating a robust assessment base.
The challenge is then to prescribe, observe, verify and assess a student’s teaching and observational skills; it is not only raw delivery skills that a teacher needs to uphold. Educators need to be able to design, develop, plan, deliver, interact, analyse, feedback and fine-tune their content and also engage with their students to embed true knowledge, skills and understanding. With the Online Business School model, the student will find their own local school or college willing to support their training and, given the scarcity of resource, most students will not find this difficult. Online Business School will undertake verification of the college in various ways that culminate in a learning contract between the college, the student and Online Business School. This requires a certain level of support and commitment from all parties but is powerful enough to be operated remotely. The first part of the contract is a 20 hours observation module, whereby the student critically observes a qualified teacher within a prescribed methodology. A scheme of work and assessment criteria is provided which are based on accepted pedagogical principles. The college mentor checks. Online Business School verify, usually directly with viva voce of student via skype. There is then a requirement for 40 hours of teaching practice. Again, a framework is provided, not only for the face-to-face teaching itself, but also in respect of lesson preparation, feedback and analysis. Observation of at least 25 per cent will be required by the mentor plus a live skype with Online Business School. A class recipient feedback rating is also incorporated.
On successful completion of the programme students receive a verified qualification through an Ofqual Awarding Organisation. Ofqual are a UK Government Quality Assurance Agency and this gives international value and recognition. The question is of course whether this is an acceptable model, a better model than campus base or just a different model. Of course it will not suit everyone but it will make available a versatile, flexible and well validated programme that will, without question, give successful students the requisite skills for a career in teaching.
Find out more about Online Business School here
After founding RDI Ltd, John then went on to launch the Online Business School Ltd in 2012 which provides affordable online pathway programmes to university qualifications in business and management.