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The Program Support PD Center is excited to announce the new Innovating Distance Education in Adult Learning in MA (IDEAL-MA) Project, a PD series specifically developed to support programs using their FY21 Option 3 funds for planning and implementing distance and blended education services.

IDEAL-MA PD is intended to help you plan and implement a new distance or blended education program, or to enhance an existing program. Through a comprehensive set of PD supports, we will address topics such as the group of students to initially focus on and how to prepare them for success; effective distance and blended learning models and how to select one (or more); the four hallmarks of blended learning; and online instructional resources to use.

As part of this project, you will work with colleagues in cohorts, engage in PD, receive individualized program-based coaching, and participate in an inclusive community of practice. Programs are encouraged to send teams of a director/coordinator and educators. IDEAL-MA is open to both those who are newer to distance and blended learning and those who are experienced. Two communities of practice will provide customized support based on participant experience.

Please download the attached flyer for details about this project its components and the letter of interest template for you to submit to be part of this cohort. Also, be sure to register via this calendar posting.

IDEAL-MA builds on our state’s partnership with the national IDEAL Consortium, which uses research and evidence-based practice to help its 17 member states establish quality, innovative distance and blended learning programs to ensure that all learners have access to quality learning opportunities beyond the classroom.

Due to the nature of this PD and the coaching involved, this project is limited to eight programs. Participants will spend on average five to seven PD hours per month during the project, scheduled from October through February.

For more information, please contact


    This professional development activity/course is designed for:

  • New and experienced staff in program teams who would like to implement high quality, evidence-based distance and blended education services for adult learners

Drawing on the nationally recognized IDEAL Distance and Blended Learning Handbook, our team has adapted the three IDEAL courses (Modules 1-3 below) to reflect current MA policies and guidance from ACLS. If you completed any of these courses over the summer, retaking them is optional. If you took any previous to this summer, you will need to take them again, because they have been updated to include successful practices for this period of remote teaching and learning in response to COVID-19.

In addition to the PD outlined below, coaching and Coffee Hour sharing sessions are available in between sessions to support you and your team. Coaching will be scheduled individually with program teams, either during or after the courses, based on coaches’ availability and program need.

Programs that register are expected to complete this series, which will be delivered entirely online this year. The schedule for this PD series is as follows:

Module 1: Planning for a Strong Foundation

  • Online Module: 10/13 - 11/10/20 (4 hours)
  • Community of Practice Sharing Meeting: 11/10/20 (1.5 hours)

Module 2: Opening Your Doors: Recruitment, Screening, and Orientation

  • Online Module: 11/17–12/15/20 (4 hours)
  • Community of Practice Sharing Meeting: 12/15/20 (1.5 hours)

Module 3: In the Class: Instruction and Assessment

  • Online module: 1/12–2/9/21 (4 hours)
  • Community of Practice Sharing Meeting: 2/9/21 (1.5 hours)

Module 4 (Optional): Intro to Blended Learning: Maximizing Impact through Online and In-Person Learning 

  • Online Module: 2/23 - 3/23/21 (4 hours)
  • Community of Practice Sharing Meeting: 3/23/21 (1.5 hours)

Northstar Digital Literacy: 10/29: 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. (1.5 hours)

  • You will be introduced, and have free access, to the Northstar Digital Literacy assessments and curriculum for one year.
  • Following the webinar, you will complete at least four Northstar modules of your choosing to explore how Northstar might benefit your program and students.


  • April 2021, dates to be determined (3 hours)
    Learning Objectives

    Upon completion of this professional development activity/course, you will be able to:

  • Module 1
  • Describe the similarities and differences between the two models of distance education
  • Consider which distance education options are best for learners you wish to serve
  • Identify opportunities that distance and blended learning provide to overcome barriers to education
  • Plan to use best practice approaches to planning and evaluation
  • Implement strategies for hiring and supporting appropriate staff (for administrators)
  • Respond to administrative issues, such as implications for budgeting (for administrators)
  • Module 2
  • Describe ways to define your target audience and strategies for recruiting
  • Develop a process for screening applicants to identify which learners will be a good match for your distance or blended learning program and what types of support will best enable them to persist and succeed
  • Identify key factors in designing an orientation that provides students with the necessary information and skills for a successful learning experience and a plan for reaching their goals
  • Module 3
  • Use considerations for selecting online instructional products and supplemental resources
  • Track learner progress
  • Determine how to use various types of assessment by understanding how they support instruction, learning, and retention, and ways to carry out assessments in the distance and blended learning environments
  • Module 4
  • Define blended learning
  • List the benefits of blended learning
  • Develop ideas for what the hallmarks of blended learning might look like within your teaching and with your students
Presenter(s) / Facilitator(s)
End Date
PD Center
SABES Program Support PD Center - Digital Literacy and Distance Education
Topic Area
Digital Literacy
Distance Learning