Every year there’s a load of interest from teachers when the summer courses come along. Teachers can choose to do face-to-face courses and online courses. For those of you not in the know, apart from the professional development that a teacher gains from doing these courses, there’s an added incentive: when one completes a summer course, the teacher can take 3 Extra Personal Vacation (EPV) days in lieu of doing the course. Add a second course and that makes 4 EPV days and a third or more gets the teacher a maximum of 5 EPV days. These days can be used throughout the school year.
Many of these courses are run by private companies rather than by government agencies. While they have to follow a set of rules, all teachers will attest that some of them are at best questionable.
The problem with privately run online courses is that their main goal is not to give good pedagogical output, it is to make as much money as possible. Whether they succeed at the former does not matter.
I have worked with both privately and publicly backed courses and the differences between the two were very noticeable. I have also taken part in a huge number of privately run online courses and I’d be lying if I said they all followed the DES criteria.
No matter what, it is a waste of time setting up inspectorate systems and trying to catch the bad guys out. What would be better value is to only have courses accredited by official educational agencies such as the PDST and the Teaching Council.