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Abstract

This paper shares the process and experience of a university community partnership to improve the quality of care and education in the region by enhancing teachers’ early childhood knowledge. A hybrid course for both university students and childcare providers, The Academy for Early Childhood Excellence sought to provide intense and supportive professional development for early care and education providers as well as access and an introduction to the university setting. The hybrid format necessitated some level of competence with technology and more emphasis on writing as a mode of communication. Some of the Academy participants, especially the more experienced and older providers, were not as comfortable with different computer software needed to open information provided or to complete the assignments through the Blackboard system. For some participants, navigating the online sessions was a bit difficult and they had to seek assistance from others about how and where to go on the Bb site for their postings. Participants reported increased reflection and intentionality in practices. Challenges included navigation of and access to technology as well as lack of university orientation for the transition to the university setting after the course ended. The paper ends with recommendations for higher education institutions thinking about offering professional development courses.

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