By Kirsty Costa, Cool Australia
Sustainability has been integrated into the Australian Curriculum, Early Years Learning Framework and National Quality Standards. It is now part of every educator’s brief but research shows that for many teachers it is a daunting task.
In 2014 the Australian Education for Sustainability Alliance (AESA) asked 5,000 Australian teachers about teaching of sustainability. AESA’s research found that:
* 92% of teachers thought that sustainability was important and should be part of the curriculum.
* 80% of teachers didn’t know how to incorporate sustainability in their teaching.
Traditional training approaches – including peer-to-peer coaching, local network meetings, workshops and conferences – continue to provide ways for educators to grow their knowledge and skills. These training approaches, however, can be time-demanding, costly and difficult to attend. ELCs and schools in rural areas or with limited budgets are often forced to prioritise whole-staff learning needs over that of the individual, thus leaving gaps in teacher training.
How can we level the playing field so that all educators have access to quality professional development?
Part of the answer to this is online learning. Cool Australia has partnered with TTA (Teacher Training Australia) to launch a range of professional development courses designed to complement traditional training and provide access to high quality professional development for all teachers, regardless of their location or their budget.
Online professional development has many similarities to traditional approaches but there are a few significant advantages. Teachers get to learn at their own pace, so they can fit their professional development around their timetable. They can build their confidence by posing questions to their peers, in a safe learning environment. Teachers can use the practical component of each Cool Australia course to apply their learning and then return to the course group to reflect, share their stories and seek additional support.
Another wonderful benefit of online professional development is connecting with others from across the country. One of our courses has connected two distance education teachers – one was based in a remote community in the Northern Territory and the other was based in Northern NSW. These two teachers would never have met in a face-to-face workshop, but the online format allowed them to share ideas and resources specific to their circumstances and learning needs. The experiences they have shared is providing fresh perspectives and new insights.
Online professional development helps to create vibrant learning cultures that encourage individuals and teams of teachers to shine. It levels the playing field for teachers by expanding education networks, improving access to high-quality training. Cool Australia is committed to supporting teachers to grow in their profession and meet the needs of educating in our ever changing world.
Find a Cool Australia online course: