OPS Testimonial: ‘An Immensely Helpful Learning Experience’

Have you tried AACTE’s Online Professional Seminars (OPSs) yet? Trish Parrish, assistant vice president of academic affairs and professor of education at Saint Leo University (FL), has completed three already! Here’s what she had to say when I recently asked her about the experience with AACTE’s Quality Support Initiative.

When Parrish started working on her first OPS, her husband was confused to see her in the student’s role. “He said, ‘But you’ve already prepared all your classes for tomorrow!’ And I replied, ‘Well, yes, but now I am taking my class!’ ” In fact, the time commitment on top of her already-full workload had Parrish worried at first, but she decided to give it a try—and now she has completed the first three OPSs in AACTE’s series. “I’ve definitely enjoyed it,” she says.

Parrish says the seminars’ format is surprisingly effective. “The OPSs are much more than just an online seminar – it’s the whole design that makes the learning so comfortable and enjoyable.” She notes that the learning process does not stop with the online modules, either. Rather, the students are encouraged to find out more about the topic through other sources, often outside the course.

In addition, she says, the cohort-based learning style lends “richness to the learning,” and the value of being able to connect to peers and align with people from similar professional backgrounds is immeasurable. Parrish says the online exchange tends to be lively, but also focused. “People were not just posting because it was required,” she says, “but used the platform in a very conscious way, to learn more about the topics we were discussing.”

The multilayered approach of the seminars allows for different relationships to form, Parrish notes. The students connect first to the content, but also to their facilitator as well as to the other students. The OPS format even “connects” students with themselves, as the opportunity to self-reflect is embedded in each seminar.

When asked about her favorite seminar to date, Parrish describes OPS #3: Creating a Quality Assurance System. “At my home institution,” she says, “we use analytics extensively. Those have many different advantages, but they don’t address all areas of improvement.” The OPS opened up the conversation and offered different perspectives. “Looking at different quality assurance mechanisms around the world, I definitely found some that would add value to our system,” Parrish says. “The OPS showed me that we’re all unique in our approach, but that we can still better ourselves, too. It’s an immensely helpful learning experience.”

Want to learn more about AACTE’s online seminars? Visit AACTE.org to see the current OPS schedule. New sessions start every few weeks!

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Hannah Maes

AACTE Marketing Coordinator Intern