Solar Instructor Community of Practice: A New Interactive Model

by Julie Brazeau
Solar Technical Assistance Coordinator, MREA

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Tim Wilhelm teaches renewable energy

Twenty-two instructors from six Midwest states gathered at The 26th Annual Energy Fair for the first annual Solar Instructor Summit on Saturday, June 20. Co-hosted by Kankakee Community College (KCC) instructors and Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) staff, the Summit kicked off the Solar Instructor Community of Practice.

The MREA manages the Midwest Solar Training Network, one of the Solar Instructor Training Network’s regional training providers designed to grow solar in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

IREC award winning Kankakee Community College instructor Tim Wilhelm led the Summit and shared the successes of the KCC program.

The Solar Instructor Community of Practice is a shared online resource for instructors and program leaders to access and share the latest information and strategies for PV training and solar market development. When members join this free online community, they are enrolled in the courses@midwestrenew.org online learning platform and there is an expectation of mutual sharing within the Community.

As Wilhelm puts it: “While we need to fully observe federal copyright law and protocols, let’s create a Community of Practice that manifests Common-Unity (true “community”) by openly sharing our best practices for solar instruction, by offering constructive critique of each other’s training resources and materials, and by engaging in an ongoing and open dialogue aimed at making solar training and instruction the best it can be for all of us – common unity.”

Members of the Community of Practice gain access to free online resources including KCC and MREA curriculum, solar content integration models, student work experience models, market development strategies, hands-on lab design, and program accreditation pathways.

“The Instructor Summit is a great way for instructors and schools to share ideas, find new ideas, and fine tune aspects of their curriculum and activities,” said Chuck Ammond, instructor at Muskegon Community College. “The open format allows for good practices and best practices to be explored in a very informal way.  A good idea for one school may not be the best for another – but the ideas behind the idea and the execution can be explored and fine-tuned to meet another’s goals.”

If you are an instructor interested in participating in an active exchange of training models and curriculum, please contact Tim Wilhelm or Jennifer Martin (Kankakee Community College), or Julie Brazeau (MREA) for more information.

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