The project VIC242 – Education Support a Pathway to Teaching was recently completed and was a voyage of discovery for all. Here is a summary of our findings.
The Education Support online program provided students with an innovative alternative to traditional paper-based workbooks. Students enjoyed the opportunity to interact with each other in the online space and found that participating in the discussion forum activities allowed them to learn from each other.
The online activities that were set up allowed students to explore the topics in a variety of ways; students were encouraged to use the internet to search for content and examples to share with the group as well as reflect on their own experiences. This variety ensured students with different learning styles were engaged by the program and provided scaffolding for them to move their learning to a higher level.
The teachers involved also found that the program enjoyable. They liked interacting with the students online and enjoyed reading and assessing the wide variety of responses to each of the learning activities.
This model could provide efficiencies for GippsTAFE by combining students from different courses who are studying common units of competency.
We have created this list of tips for other organisations and teachers who may wish to run a program similar to this. Here they are:
- The delivery model could be adapted to a range of courses and teaching situations
- Work out a facilitation plan for the teachers so they know what to do and when, this can include when to post announcements and when to contact students who are falling behind
- Start the move to online learning by targeting specific units of competency from a course, set these up online then add more units as the teachers develop the necessary skills and have time available
- Spend time and energy fostering the development of an online community
- Include an orientation period/week
- Support teachers by having regular meetings with a mentor experienced in the area of online delivery (In this project this was a member of the GippsTAFE Innovation Department)
- Set up an electronic spread sheet with student names and contact details to facilitate group e-mails and efficient communication (This was used for all sorts of purposes not just for the online group. It is a practice that will be continued in the future)
- Provide an Online Communication Hub as a way for students to communicate and support each other
- Combine groups of students when units of competency are used in several courses
- Take the time to develop clear and simple instructions for each activity