July 15, 2016
Teachers Talk - Adventist Learning Community
Colin Hill, Director of Computer Services, Burman University, Lacombe, AB

In the fall of 2012, the North American Division (NAD) leadership made a decision to get serious about using technology to provide resources and training for all entities of the church.  The NAD Office of Education was asked to lead this project, and it became one of the major agenda items of our Technology and Distance Education Committee (TDEC ) meeting that year.  Since then, it has been exciting to see the initial concept progress into the major influencer on our division that it is today. You have likely seen articles about the  Adventist Learning Community (ALC)  it in the Adventist Review, Canadian Adventist Messenger, and even our Canadian Adventist Teachers’ Newsletter.  What is a little discouraging is that our Education system has not been as quick to take advantage of its potential as some of the other church ministries.  So, I thought it would be appropriate this month to explore some of what is currently available and help to cast a vision for the part it could play in our future..
The Adventist Learning Community is now one year old, going live as a web site in May 2015.  Already, there are thousands of resources in topics as diverse as  Worship, Leadership, School Environment, Curriculum, to name a few.  The NAD Ministerial Association is using the ALC as the delivery and tracking mechanism for its new p-certification system which is their professional development initiative.  The structure is now there for Education to similarly manage the certification and professional development of SDA teachers.  Native, Family, Men's, Women’s and Chaplain’s Ministries all have courses or reports and resources posted.  Resources are tagged for either Teachers, Pastors, Administrators or believers and seekers, providing something for every SDA employee, member or even the public.  Some resources and courses are available to all without the need to sign in, while other will require you to register.  As an SDA teacher, you can LOGIN using your “NADE Toolkit” login credentials, and your information will be imported from there.  
There are three one hour courses on  K-12 school board membership. Leadership and legal and financial matters are available earning the learner 0.1 CEU each. These are now available for all new and existing board members. Another recorded session on “Effective Board Meetings Without Getting in Legal Trouble” presented by Karnik Doukmetzian focuses on how to effectively lead them, and how to avoid common mistakes.
TDEC coordinated a few of the first courses that were made available for teachers.  One is
titled “Copyright for Teachers and Pastors” and will provide 0.5 CEU’s.  Another, “Creating a Positive Digital Footprint” provides 0.1 CEU’s and covers the opportunities and risks of Internet use while teaching how to manage your online presence.  A third, “Internet Safety in the Classroom” looks at tools and strategies to protect your students while using school Internet resources.
The vision for the ALC is that it will be the site to go to for all SDA distance education ( K-12 and Higher Ed).  The courses may not all be hosted on the ALC learning management system itself (which is a customized instance of Canvas) but listed and accessible through this portal.  Consider the possibilities if the best teachers in our system would be involved in producing courses that were available to all of our students.  The institutions with specialized courses may provide them to others that don’t have the resources to offer them.  More general courses can be offered to a wider audience of students than who now have access.  Students at non-SDA schools could take unique SDA classes, helping to keep them connected to our church..  As a first step toward that, a Philosophy of Adventist Education course is available with content provided by long time Adventist educators George Knight and Don Roy.  Completing this will provide you with 2 CEU’s.  If you wish academic credit, perhaps to fulfill certification requirements, that can be arranged through Southern Adventist University with some additional readings and assessments required.  Short .5 CEU classes are also available on Bible Doctrines, SDA History and Spirit of Prophecy, with more being developed.
RAIN, (Rediscover, Appreciate, Immerse, Nourish) is a course presenting an entire grade 9 art curriculum in 36 lessons designed around the NAD Art standards. Developed with the assistance of an SDA professional artist consultant, it is available to use by all SDA teachers with their students, allowing you to use as much of the content as you like.  
Resources are available with more being developed that align with the “By Design” science curriculum, providing teachers with Nearpod lessons, Blippar (virtual reality) content and links to BrainPOP.
The ALC now has staff and equipment to allow it to create professional quality content.  They are using this to produce 3 minute long videos aligned with our bible curriculum that can be used to enhance a lesson or start a discussion.  52 are planned.  Other possibilities include incorporating third party professional development materials, webinars and short courses so they are categorized and searchable through the ALC with your progress tracked. One such provider of over 2000 resources is being investigated.
If you haven’t yet taken a look, hop over to https://www.adventistlearningcommunity.com/ and get on enrolled.  For your professional and personal needs, there will be something there for you.  But be sure to keep coming back as the content is constantly expanding.