Online Courses: FAQ for Supervisors

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What are these online courses for?
The online courses provide VISTAs access to educational topics that build their capacity to be more effective during their service year. Courses are offered in three key areas: Resource Development, Volunteer Management, and Poverty In Your Community. All of these courses were designed specifically for the unique circumstances, opportunities, and challenges faced by VISTAs. Each course has an expert facilitator who leads students through a variety of interactive skill- and knowledge-building activities in a virtual classroom. The courses were created by VISTA and our partners at Education Northwest, who bring more than 20 years of experience designing and delivering training to VISTA members and supervisors.

What does my VISTA get out of it?
Skills and knowledge that can help your VISTA serve more effectively. Those who successfully complete the course will also earn transferable undergraduate college credit recommendations, from with the American Council on Education (ACE). Please note that college credit recommendations are not currently available for the Poverty In Your Community or Community Engagement courses.

What does my organization get out of it?
The courses have a learn-by-doing approach that can reduce your VISTA’s “learning curve” and enhance productivity, particularly for VISTAs new to the nonprofit sector or the work world. Your VISTA will learn how to develop targeted products and relationships that can grow and sustain your organization’s efforts. Your VISTA will also have access to readings and materials that they can bring back to your site and use to build the capacity of your organization and community.

The course can also support your VISTA’s motivation, service satisfaction, and morale. The opportunity to acquire nonprofit-management knowledge, skills and transferable college credits through VISTA service is a strong retention incentive.

Do I have any role to play in the course?
We would like you to meet periodically with your VISTA to review progress, discuss course content, and offer encouragement. This will add another dimension to discussions with your VISTA, but should not add a great deal of time or effort to your role as a VISTA supervisor.

How much of my time will this take?
We hope you can be available on an informal, unscheduled basis to answer questions your VISTA may have that arise from the course materials and activities. We estimate these tasks will require a total of no more than three hours of your time. And of course, giving input and feedback can be incorporated into your routine supervisory interactions.

Is there a cost involved?
VISTAs do not have to pay anything to take the courses. VISTAs who wish to access course credit recommendations upon completion will pay a small transcript fee of $20 ($15 for each additional transcript) to the American Council on Education. (Please note that college credit recommendations are not currently available for the Poverty In Your Community or Community Engagement courses.)

Is this going to distract my VISTA from their work?
In the spirit of service learning, course activities will be practical and applicable, to the fullest extent possible. We believe this course will not intrude upon the VISTA’s responsibilities in any significant way.

Who can I talk to if I have questions or concerns?
Email our registrar with any questions: vistacourses@cns.gov

Can I enroll in the course?
At this time, the course is only for VISTAs.