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Virtual Help

BSU educators enhance Brockton online teaching

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic made online education ubiquitous, Brockton educators recognized that a virtual school has the potential to meet students’ unique educational needs.

With their vision now a reality, administrators at the Brockton Virtual Learning Academy are turning to faculty at Bridgewater State University for help creating an even more effective and engaging online environment.

“During the pandemic, when we were forced into remote learning, we learned a lot by doing,” said Kristina Gallant, ’04, G’18, the academy’s coordinator. Now, “we want to make sure we’re experts in providing the best education possible to our students.”

Gallant, who has degrees in instructional technology and Spanish from Bridgewater, is among approximately 25 Brockton teachers, adjustment counselors, and administrators enrolled in BSU’s Teaching in a Virtual/Online Setting graduate certificate program.

Taught entirely online, the four-course program is a perfect professional development opportunity for the academy, which opened in 2021 and serves about 200 K-12 Brockton students.

"It gives us an opportunity to learn so many different facets of teaching virtually,” said Principal Diane Lynch, ’84, who is also working on earning the certificate. “It helps us to explore what’s out there.”

Lynch and Gallant praised the program for giving school staff new tools and methods with which to engage students and assess their knowledge.

“Teaching in a virtual environment is much different than in a classroom face-to-face,” said Joanne McDonald, ’88, a part-time BSU faculty member who teaches in the certificate program. “They’re gaining that understanding of how it differs and the logistics of it all.”

The program also covers communication and collaboration, including working with therapists and other specialists who are an important part of online education. 

“We're fortunate that the university offers this unique program which supports the professional practice of educators working in what is a relatively new virtual learning environment,” said Brockton Superintendent Michael P. Thomas,  ’92, G’99, who praised BSU as an “invaluable partner” to his district.

McDonald is impressed by Brockton educators’ willingness to enhance their skills while working a demanding job.

“Kudos to all of them," she said. “They’re all so, so dedicated.”

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