From the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. (IREC) and the Solar Instructor Training Network (SITN) come the Best Practices Documents, a series of documents designed to give instructors an in-depth resource to develop new solar education and training programs, enhance existing ones, as well as integrate solar content into related trades programs.

This series of documents from IREC and SITN is a compendium of national best practices for instructors in solar training, education and workforce development. They are designed to significantly hasten the development of quality solar training and education programs throughout the U.S. These Best Practices build on IREC’s previous work of Best Practices first published in 2008 and updated in 2010.

“These Best Practices documents will finally provide a one-stop shop to enable instructors to easily enhance current solar curriculum, and also provide a detailed roadmap for instructors who are considering adding solar to related trades curriculum,” said Joe Sarubbi, Project Manager for the Solar Instructor Training Network (SITN) and former solar educator at Hudson Valley Community College.  “How I wish I had something like this when I was developing my solar program.”

Launched in 2009, the SITN includes nine Regional Training Providers (RTPs) that offer train-the-trainer programs to instructors at community colleges, technical high schools, and trade associations in solar system design, installation, sales, and inspection across the U.S.  The SITN is funded under The U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, a national collaborative to make solar cost-competitive with other forms of energy by reducing the cost of solar energy systems by about 75% by the end of the decade.

“These ‘Best Practices’ for photovoltaic training are supported by SunShot as a way to ensure consistency in training our nation’sgrowing solar workforce,” said Christina Nichols, Contractor to SunShot, U.S. Department of Energy.  “Providing industry-approved best practices, and training PV installers, system designers and other solar professionals to a high level of tested competence will help shave costs from every PV installation, while increasing the safety and production from that system. Better quality and lower costs will spur robust job creation in the U.S. solar industry.”

The development of these Best Practices documents is part of IREC’s role as the National Administrator of the SITN. IREC assembled some of the most distinguished talent in the country in solar training, education and workforce development to create these resources.

The SITN Best Practices series, which are available in PDF format, can be downloaded from the Solar Instructor Training Network site.  They include:

1.  Developing a Quality Course explores the process of developing a quality course or unit of instruction and the models and practices that can be used for solar education or other purposes.  It also describes the instructional systems design (ISD) model, and how the ADDIE Model can be used to design and develop a course or workshop.

2.  Solar Content Integration features options for educating and training individuals by integrating or infusing solar content into existing education and training programs.

3.  Curriculum and Program Development gives a brief overview of the curriculum development process, with special attention to DACUM (Developing a Curriculum) methodology and Job Task Analysis (JTA).

4.  Becoming an Effective Teacher, focuses on teaching and learning strategies that promote effective instruction.

5.  Exemplary Solar Education and Training Programs presents information on six exemplary solar education and training programs in the U.S.

“From developing a quality solar course to integrating solar content into existing training programs to becoming an effective teacher, these Best Practices documents were thoughtfully and deliberately developed to give solar instructors a valuable resource for training a highly-skilled, globally-competitive solar energy workforce for the 21st Century,” said Dr. Jerry Ventre.

As these Best Practices make their way into classrooms, IREC will work closely with the RTPs to enhance these resources, adding lessons-learned and regional models that provide further examples of the best practices in use. “These aren’t static documents,” said Sarubbi.

In addition to these initial Best Practices, more documents in the series are in development, to be released later in 2012.  For more information about the Solar Instructor Training Network, visit the website