The Program for Infant/Toddler Care Expands Reach and Inclusiveness Through Digital Format
“Remember how special it is.” “Keep the magic.” “Don’t break it!”
That was the kind of guidance Deborah Greenwald received when leading the redesign of the Program for Infant/Toddler Care (PITC) Trainer Institute from being entirely in-person to instead using a hybrid model — combining in-person and online elements. The task seemed daunting. “Participants have described the PITC as life-changing, so there was trepidation about changing the institute,” says Greenwald, Senior Program Associate in WestEd’s Center for Child and Family Studies.
The challenge was more than just creating digital versions of what had previously been offered face-to-face. Shifting to a digital format needed to be done in such a way that would maintain the PITC’s fundamental principles which seemed more readily suited to direct human interaction than to digital platforms — particularly an emphasis on and modeling of relationship-based, individualized, and collaborative learning, which is at the heart of the early childcare that the PITC promotes.
Developed collaboratively by WestEd and the California Department of Education (CDE), the PITC uses a train-the-trainer model to prepare and certify participants to lead professional learning for infant/toddler care providers. Over the past several decades, PITC has helped establish California as a national leader in this field.
In recent years, responding to an interest in reaching more diverse and geographically dispersed trainers through more varied formats, PITC faculty began developing online components. In January 2020, PITC launched its first Hybrid Trainer Institute. Then, when a full-blown pandemic hit, the team worked to transition from hybrid to entirely digital format, creating the PITC Virtual Trainer Institute, which launched with its first cohort in October 2020.
“The timing really saved us,” said Elizabeth Crocker, Director of PITC Training and Certification. “If we hadn’t developed the hybrid before the pandemic, I’m not sure we could have pivoted in time to build a fully virtual platform.”
Posted on June 1, 2021