By Valérie Charbonneau
Emmanuel Duplàa, Faculty of Education professor, has every reason to be happy. As of this month, uOttawa is the only university to offer a fully online teacher education program in French, accredited by the Ontario College of Teachers.
And Duplàa is one of the main people behind this change. It’s a major accomplishment for the former director of the Formation à l’enseignement program, who has been working on the project for more than five years.
“Aside from the eight weeks of practica, you can take the entire bachelor’s from home,” Duplàa said. “The advantages of this change in delivery methods are many for the Ontario francophone community. For example, this program will allow for Franco-Ontarian schools in isolated regions, because it will keep student teachers in their home communities.”
Students can already register for a blended program, that is, one where they take some courses online and travel to one of our three campuses for the others.
“From now on, students registered in the online bachelor’s will no longer have to travel to the Toronto, Windsor or Ottawa campus to complete the program requirements,” Duplàa said. “This new delivery method better meets the needs of these teacher candidates, who are usually making a career change. They can now take all of their courses through distance education, with a mix of videoconferencing and customized activities to do on their own, from the privacy of home.”
The demand for francophone teachers in school boards in remote regions is undeniable. By allowing students to take the entire program where they are, the University of Ottawa is doing away with the constraints of geography and time, while ensuring a new generation of teachers not only in regions with francophone minorities in Ontario, but elsewhere in Canada as well.
“Thanks to this change, teaching staff will be trained on site and be more likely to stay in their communities,” Duplàa said.
While practica must still be completed in Ontario, students from all parts of Canada can now take the program in their communities and thus contribute to francophone growth throughout the country.
“For its first year running, the online program received a very high number of applications for admission, more than a hundred from across Canada,” said Phyllis Dalley, current director of the Formation à l’enseignement program.
This first fully online uOttawa bachelor’s degree does more than fill a glaring need — it also plays a role in enhancing University professors’ skills. Indeed, while Faculty of Education professors already have online education expertise, targeted training and subsidies will allow them to develop and upgrade their technical and pedagogical skills.
“In the coming year, we will work with professors to fine-tune our approach to teaching online, to continue to improve our offerings and to make the synchronous sessions — that is, where professors are required to be online at set times — more flexible and personalized,” Dalley said.
Learn more about the online Formation à l’enseignement program.