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""Virtually there": Making Online Training ‘Real' for Caribbean Literacy Coaches – What Governments Can Do" icon

"Virtually there": Making Online Training ‘Real' for Caribbean Literacy Coaches – What Governments Can Do

The paper examines the implications of online training for the effectiveness of literacy instructional coaches being trained to operate in the English-Speaking Caribbean. Prior to the year 2000, no specific training program for literacy professionals at the masters' level was available in the region. Hence, the University of the West Indies' Open Campus' attempt at using the online mode to training reading specialists in the use of research-based practices represents a fairly bold innovation, and research is needed to determine the efficacy of such a venture. Through an analysis of a series of asynchronous learning conversations involving four group facilitators and 77 teacher trainees in an online best practice course in the program, the author reveals the reactions of coaches-in-training to exemplary practices to which they were being exposed. Using a socio-cognitive lens through which to examine such learning conversations, the researcher demonstrates the movement in the cognitive response of trainees from awe and admiration, to skepticism that practices can work in Caribbean settings, and finally, on being presented with images of exemplary practices in Caribbean contexts, to an eagerness to emulate practices observed. The study reveals that, while Caribbean teachers tend to initially admire depictions of best practice in resources "borrowed from more privileged contexts", they ultimately respond with some psychological distancing and skepticism that may prevent them from applying practices observed to their own instruction. Trainees' suggestions regarding adjustments to be made to the virtual environment become the basis for recommendations for the mounting and maintenance of a teaching resource repository to be used for training and professional development purposes by Caribbean teachers and teacher trainers. It is recommended that a consortium of experts should collaborate to mount, lead, and sustain such an initiative with master teachers and regular teachers supplying recordings from their own classrooms to be vetted and then made available in this repository. The readiness of Caribbean nations to undertake online teacher training and to sustain such a supportive resource is examined.

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