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Certification and Professional Development Courses

Online instructors need time, support, and guidance to teach effectively and confidently in online spaces. As a community of experts in online literacy practices, GSOLE offers a series of professional development courses in online literacy instruction, which have the potential to culminate in a Basic Online Literacy Instruction Certificate.

These month-long courses have been designed to help teachers and tutors new to online learning implement research-based practicesCourses are designed to support the instructional work of anyone teaching reading and writing, such as instructors teaching composition, professional writing, literature, creative writing, writing-intensive courses in majors across the disciplines, as well as writing center tutors and English teachers in middle and high schools. Each course is facilitated by an OLI scholar and expert and gives participants opportunities to read OLI scholarship, discuss their ideas with peers and experts in OLI, and consider how to best apply these scholarly ideas in their local contexts. You must be an active GSOLE member to participate in these courses.

There are two ways to engage with these professional development courses:

  • Take the courses as topics interest you for a flat $25 registration fee by registering for each module individually under our Events page.
  • Pay one certification fee to complete all eight modules and submit your OLI ePortfolio at a flexible pace over three years. Certification registration costs vary based on the self-reported rank and salary of each participant:
    • Contingent faculty and graduate students: $100
    • Full-time faculty/staff making under $50,000 annually: $125
    • Full-time faculty/staff making over $50,000 and up to $75,000 annually: $150
    • Full-time faculty/staff making over $75,000 annually: $200

    Register for the certification fee by purchasing the corresponding digital item in the section below.

Hoping to enroll a group of faculty from your institution? Email certification administrators Dr. Kevin DePew ( and Dr. Amy Cicchino ( for institutional enrollment options.

2023-2024 Professional Development Course Calendar

We recommend those new to OLI begin with "Module 1: Defining Terms and Learning Key Concepts." Otherwise, modules do not need to be taken in order.

AugustJoin us for two free synchronous events

  • Thursday, August 24 at 2pm U.S. Eastern, 1pm U.S. Central, 12noon U.S. Mountain, and 11am U.S. Pacific, "Getting Started with the GSOLE Certification" (1 hour)
  • Tuesday, August 29th at 3pm U.S. Eastern, 2pm U.S. Central, 1pm U.S. Mountain, 12pm U.S. Pacific,  "Developing Your Theory of OLI (1 hour)

September 1-30 (Asynchronous):

  • Module 1: Defining Terms and Learning Key Concepts
  • Module 5: Designing Online Literacy Instruction

October 1-31 (Asynchronous):

  • Module 2: Accessible and Inclusive Student Learning
  • Module 6: Justifying Your OLI Practice

November 1-30 (Asynchronous):

Join us November 13 from 3:30-5:00pm U.S. Eastern, 2:30-4:00pm U.S. Central, 1:30-3:00pm U.S. Mountain, 12:30-2:00pm U.S. Pacific for a bonus free event, "Starting Your Online Writing Instructor Teaching Portfolio: A Hands-On Workshop"

December 1-31 (Asynchronous):

January: Join us for two free synchronous events free

  • Date and Time TBD, "Getting Started with the GSOLE Certification" (1 hour)
  • Date and Time TBD,  "Developing Your Theory of OLI (1 hour)

February 1-28 (Asynchronous):

March 1-31 (Asynchronous):

April 1-31 (Asynchronous):

May 1-31 (Asynchronous):

Deadline to Submit for ePortfolio Evaluation: July 15

    Professional Development Course Design

    The certification process has been designed to teach the GSOLE Online Literacy Instruction Principles and Tenets (2019) and practices of teaching and tutoring writing online. Yet, it is also designed to give each participant the opportunity to apply those principles to the contexts in which they work or anticipate working. In Module 8, they will look across their experiences to reflect on their identity as an OLI practitioner and develop a learning or showcase ePortfolio, which will serve as their deliverable for final evaluation in the certification.

    Each course focuses on an OLI topic and will be moderated by an instructor-mentor who is an expert practitioner and scholar in OLI. Participants will engage in reading and discussing OLI theory and research, reflective writing, and the generation of an assignment artifact. Artifacts will be illustrations of the OLI topics in practice, and participants will have flexibility and choice in how they illustrate their learning. For instance, in our module on accessible and inclusive student learning, participants can create an institutional guide for students, create a guide for teachers and tutors in their program, analyze a collection of syllabi for accessible and inclusive design, or interview local campus experts.

    Instructor-mentors will provide participants with timely feedback on their annotations, reflections, and artifact assignments. Participants must submit all components of the module and receive a passing evaluation from the instructor-mentor to successfully complete the course.

    Participants’ Workload

    These professional development courses have been designed to teach participants foundational principles and practices of teaching and tutoring writing online. Yet, it is also designed to give each participant the opportunity to apply those principles to the contexts in which they work or anticipate working. The rigor and labor associated with this course can be compared to a graduate-level course (engaging with multiple scholarly readings, discussing concepts with peers, and synthesizing your learning into a polished artifacts assignment). We estimate participants will spend approximately eight hours per monthly module.

    Earning Basic OLI Certification

    To earn, certification participants must complete eight modules, each of which is conducted and evaluated based on a course contract and submit their ePortfolio for evaluation within a three-year period

    Individuals earning the Basic OLI Certificate will be able to…

    • Define and differentiate among teaching/tutoring environments (traditional, technologically enhanced, and fully online), course delivery formats (face-to-face, hybrid, fully online) and temporal modalities (synchronous and asynchronous).

    • Understand how teaching/tutoring environments, course delivery formats, and temporal modalities influence accessible and inclusive student learning.

    • Design, justify, and apply the pedagogy for an accessible activity using the affordances of a digital teaching/tutoring (e.g., LMS, blog, social media platform)

    • Describe and analyze their local contexts, the resources the contexts offer to the teaching of online writing, and the affordances of those resources.

    • Design an online unit that teaches writing, teaches others how to teach writing, or teaches tutors how to support consultants through online appointments. 

    • Theoretically justify the unit they designed in the last module.

    • Understand how to manage the interpersonal relationships between students and the instructor, students and tutors, students and each other, and students and the course content.

    • Review and reflect on their learning in this course by developing a theory of learning and complete a peer review of another person’s ePortfolio.

    Participants who pay the flat module registration fee of $25 per module may complete the certification at any pacing that works for them, even if that expands beyond a three-year period.

    The OLI ePortfolio

    Those looking to complete the full certification will also need to create an OLI ePortfolio centered around their identity as an OLI educator and supported with the artifacts created through the eight modules. While this ePortfolio will integrate your learning and prompt you to reflect on what you have learned, we hope it will have additional relevance for you as a professional beyond the certification. Two GSOLE Certification Evaluation Committee members, whose review will be anonymous, will evaluate the participant’s ePortfolio on a pass/fail basis. If there is disagreement between the two evaluators, the ePortfolio will be assessed by a third evaluator. Participants who do not pass the portfolio have the option to resubmit their ePortfolio for further evaluation following revision; these participants can request an extension which will provide them one-on-one instructor guidance while revising their work.

    This portfolio must contain artifacts that provide evidence of skills, experiences, and knowledge from each module will be placed in an ePortfolio that will be submitted for final assessment to demonstrate completion of each objective. A short personal reflection will accompany each artifact. Participants will produce a personal, evolving theory of OLI, which they can begin drafting in the biannual workshop on this topic. Students will refine their theory of OLI and add it to their ePortfolio. Then, participants will submit their ePortfolio for review and evaluation by a GSOLE Certification Board of Evaluators. 

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