Beginning in September, Brock’s Bachelor of Early Childhood Education (BECE) will be available as an online program, making it accessible to early childhood educators across Canada and around the world.
The BECE program is a part-time or full-time Honours degree that builds on a two-year Early Childhood Education Diploma program or equivalent, allowing students to complete their degree in as little as two years.
Students entering into the program will now be able to complete their degree online. Some context or elective credit courses can be completed face-to-face, giving students the option to engage with the Brock community on campus if they choose.
The decision to move online was based on expanding the program’s geographic reach, allowing students to build a global perspective on the field by connecting with peers and experts around the world. The online program will also offer greater flexibility for students, who are often working early childhood education (ECE) professionals seeking to enhance their credentials.
“Currently, we have many professionals who enter the degree because they are passionate about this field and want to be part of the movement of a national quality ECE system,” said Debra Harwood, Professor in the Faculty of Education and Program Director for BECE. “They want the knowledge and skills associated with being the change agents or champions for a better ECE system, so that’s where an advance degree can help.”
Moving the program online will also help to contribute to meeting national objectives for a high quality professional ECE sector by enhancing the knowledge base of practitioners, fostering a cadre of researcher-practitioners and fuelling change at every level of the ECE system, Harwood said.
“Most research indicates that knowledgeable, well-educated ECE professionals are a key determinant of a quality system of early learning and care. At Brock, we wanted to be part of this aim,” she said.
While the move online had been considered for a number years, the COVID-19 pandemic provided an opportunity for the program to fine-tune engaging online learning that meets the needs of students and provides student-centred resources and experiences that are varied, flexible and accessible.
The pandemic has also had a significant impact on the ECE sector and has highlighted the important role of ECE professionals to economic and community recovery.
“Now more than ever, the role of a knowledgeable well-trained educator is essential,” said Harwood. “We need educators who are equipped with the ability to adapt to new skills and technologies, identify and evaluate promising practices, and advocate for an inclusive and equitable ECE system.”