The three projects that were part of GippsTAFE’s 2013 e-Learning grant provided valuable professional development to a large number of general teaching staff and also provided the opportunity for staff in the Innovation Department to research new processes that significantly enhance their ability to support institute staff.
Project 1 – Getting it Right Online
The aim of this project was to investigate ways to make it easier for GippsTAFE teachers to ensure that their teaching programs and record keeping processes satisfy the stringent requirements of evidence of engagement audits as well as meeting quality assurance standards.
After consultation with the Quality Assurance team at GippsTAFE and extensive investigation of the online platforms in use at the institute a range of strategies were developed to assist teachers.
These strategies were shared with GippsTAFE staff via a series of training webinars. All webinars were recorded and the recordings are available via the GippsTAFE Innovation Blog.
Teachers who were unable to attend the ‘real-time’ webinars have been able to access the recordings after the event. These recordings also allow teachers to re-visit subject material on multiple occasions if required.
Where appropriate the GippsTAFE Online Learning Help Guides were updated to include tips and examples to help teachers set courses and units up in an appropriate manner allowing the knowledge gained throughout this project to be shared with a wider audience. The GippsTAFE Online Learning Help Guides can be found at:
Project 2 – Using Video
This project investigated the use of video for teaching and learning in a range of situations.
A survey of a group of interested teachers identified some key areas to target. These were:
- Narrate presentation
- Scenario/Case Study
A range of equipment and software were trialled to identify convenient ways for teachers to capture and prepare video files to use with their students. The aim was to use software that was readily available to all GippsTAFE staff and to develop processes that were simple and not too time consuming. Apps for mobile devices were also investigated and some were identified that make it easier for both teachers and students to capture video at lower resolutions so the file size is more manageable.
A series of face to face training sessions were organised to show teachers how to use Windows Movie Maker and assist them to start on a project of their own. The presentations used in these sessions are available at:
Whilst working on this project it quickly became evident that the wide range of video formats in current use made a one-size-fits-all solution difficult to achieve. Despite this we were able to work with a pilot group of teachers to trial a range of possible solutions.
- Time was spent with teachers from the Building Studies department to help them better use existing video resources with their students.
- A Diploma of Nursing teacher was assisted to create a successful video for use with her students and we expect to create more videos on a range of topics.
- Teachers from the Business Studies department worked on two different projects to create videos for their courses.
Following this pilot phase a webinar was conducted to share this knowledge with the wider GippsTAFE community and it was pleasing to note that this webinar has sparked more interest in the use of video and ways to make teaching more interesting and interactive.
Project 3 – Virtual Classrooms
This project investigated a range of virtual classrooms currently available to assess their suitability for use at GippsTAFE. Of particular interest was the compatibility of these products with Moodle, the LMS used at GippsTAFE.
A pilot group of teachers, who currently use the virtual classroom, Blackboard Collaborate, were surveyed to find out which features they used most and which were most important to them. The results of this survey showed that GippsTAFE teachers require a virtual classroom that provides participants with a high degree of interactivity in particular the ability to type text onto an interactive whiteboard. The online sessions they conduct are more in the nature of a tutorial or discussion group rather than a lecture format.
Following this investigation members of the group were introduced to two virtual classrooms, Big Blue Button and Go To Meeting, to assess their usability and convenience. Webinars were conducted in each platform to demonstrate the various features. Discussion in these sessions allowed the teachers to share the strategies they currently use in online sessions with each other. Unfortunately the technology did not allow these sessions to be recorded.
Of the two virtual classroom trialled Big Blue Button was found to be the better option for GippsTAFE teachers rather than Go To Meeting. This was mostly due to the way it can be integrated into Moodle via the Training Virtual Campus. However the teachers found the degree of interactivity for the participants was not suitable for their requirements in either platform. In fact one teacher commented that if there was a change to Big Blue Button he would consider replacing his online tutorials with face to face sessions.
The results of this project indicate that GippsTAFE teachers currently deliver highly interactive online sessions using Blackboard Collaborate and that at this stage other platforms are not suitable for their needs. We understand that Big Blue Button continues to be developed and improved so we will monitor this and may consider it suitable in the future.