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Joe Sarubbi
from the project manager
Joe Sarubbi

As I sat down to write this column for the last SITN newsletter, these lyrics (Steve Miller Band 1976) popped into my head. For those of you who remember them, you might find them as appropriate as I do.
What a difference five years makes. Since 2010, the Solar Instructor Training Network (SITN) has become the benchmark for building a highly qualified, well-trained solar workforce. Thanks to the vision and support of the U.S. Department of Energy's SunShot Initiative, this cohesive network of nine Regional Training Providers (RTPs), IREC and DOE championed vitally relevant issues in workforce development and solar training and education.

Designing a national network to educate and train a solar workforce is not an inconsequential task. It takes time. And energy. And vision. So while the SITN as originally envisioned is ending, it leaves an exemplary legacy of resources and relationships, and a network of institutions and organizations that will continue to provide solar education and training into the future. More






IREC's updated and expanded Photovoltaic Online Training Course for Code Officials is now 
in code compliance with the 2008, 2011 and 2014 versions of the National Electric Code (NEC). In addition, it includes a new lesson covering the 2012 International Fire, Building and Residential Codes and improvements to the user experience within the course. Developed as part of IREC's role as the national administrator of the SITN, this free online tool was thoughtfully designed to aid code officials who inspect and permit residential solar PV systems. More
Best Practices in Online PV Course Development

How do people learn? What teaching strategies are most effective? Can solar content be successfully taught online? 
These are just a few of the questions participants will be able to answer after taking the course "Best Practices in Online PV Development." Designed so participants can apply best practices to help students learn solar content, it also helps them teach solar content effectively in both online and traditional settings.
The course has three modules:
  1. What is effective instruction?
  2. How do you teach solar content?
  3. What competencies does an effective solar instructor have? 
With learning activities and strategies, this is a self-directed and self-paced instructional course.
Although the course is non-graded, quizzes or other self-graded assessment exercises are provided to give learners an opportunity to gauge their learning. Expert feedback is provided for all exercises and quizzes. 
Online and hybrid instruction are gaining popularity in training and education settings. Using a variety of online and hybrid rubrics and checklists, this course can help instructors determine if they and their institutions have the resources and capabilities to offer this kind of solar instruction. 

The SITN Best Practices, a compendium of national best practices for instructors in solar training, education and workforce development, give educators the right tools to develop and implement quality-training programs and prepare students with indispensable skills to enter the solar workforce. 
All seven Best Practices are web-based. Best Practices chapters 1-6 are also available as PDFs. Originally designed and developed by IREC in its capacity as the national administrator of DOE's SITN, these in-depth resources support instructors in:
  • Developing new solar programs.
  • Integrating solar into related trades programs.
  • Enhancing existing solar education and training programs.
This online guide is specifically directed at faculty and administrators at educational institutions interested in updating, improving and enriching their curriculum by integrating solar content. 

The guide features examples of programs that address a broad spectrum of practitioner and professional needs, ranging from apprenticeship programs for the electrical construction trades to technician programs at the community college level, and academic and professional degree programs at the baccalaureate and master degree levels. More
The U.S. Department of Education's Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships (EQUIP) program encourages innovation between colleges and non-traditional providers to learn if those partnerships increase access to innovative and effective education, particularly for students from low-income backgrounds. Equally important, EQUIP guages quality assurance processes for non-traditional providers. 

Regionally accredited community and other colleges can partner with at least one non-traditional training provider and a third-party Quality Assurance Entity (QAE) to independently review and monitor the program quality in new and innovative ways, focused on claims for learning and student learning and employment outcomes.

Examples of an EQUIP project:
  • a community college partners with a third-party solar training provider to train workers needed in an area with high solar penetration.
  • a state university collaborates with a weatherization training agency to provide state quality control inspectors. 
In both cases, a third-party evaluating entity would work with the partners to assure measurable quality outcomes.

Letters of intent to apply for EQUIP funding are due December 14, 2015. Details.

IREC has potential interest in serving as the third-party QAE for colleges teaching clean energy who will apply for EQUIP funding. 

To speak with an IREC representative about this opportunity, call (518) 621-7379. Inquiries specifically about the EQUIP experiment should be addressed to the US Department of Education.

About IREC
The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) is a non-profit organization that believes clean energy is critical to achieving a sustainable and economically strong future. To pave this clean energy path, IREC works to expand consumer access to clean energy; generates information and objective analysis grounded in best practices and standards; and leads programs to build a quality clean energy workforce, including a unique credentialing program for renewable energy and energy efficiency training providers and instructors. Since 1982, IREC's programs and policies have benefitted energy consumers, policymakers, utilities and the clean energy industry. As of July 2013, IREC is an accredited American National Standards Developer. 

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. (IREC) does not assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product or process that is referred to or linked to in this newsletter. Reference to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not necessarily constitute or imply IREC's endorsement or recommendation. 

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council | P.O. Box 1156 | Latham NY 12110-1156| 518.621.7379
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