Posts Tagged ‘online’

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.

https://gippstafeinnovation.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/getting-it-right-in-moodle-training-webinars/

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:

http://libguides.gippstafe.edu.au/friendly.php?s=onlinelearning

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:

  • Communication
  • Instruction
  • Narrate presentation
  • Scenario/Case Study
  • Assessment

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:

https://innovation.gippstafe.edu.au/MovieMaker/

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.

Click here for the webinar recording.

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.

The case studies for the recent E-Learning for Participation and Skills projects have now been finalised and can be accessed at:
VIC215 – Learning for Employment
VIC242 – Educaton Support a Pathway to Teaching

It has been very exciting to be a part of this project that used iPads to deliver training to young learners with disabilities. We found that the use of mobile technologies increases the learners’ level of engagement and allows them to undertake activities that are suitable for their ability level. There is also the opportunity for them to move to new levels as their skills develop.

We found that it was important to use apps that were appropriate to the learners’ individual level of ability rather than worrying that the graphics might be too “babyish”. The learners were very supportive of each other in this respect but in a different group this could be an issue to consider.

This group found the iPads easy to use and because they are not bulky they are unobtrusive and still allow the learners to feel part of a group and focus on the teacher when necessary without being distracted by bulky screens and other equipment.

Click here to watch a video about this project and the learners’ achievements.

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:

  • Start enrolment process earlier so there is time to gather ID
  • Start with a few apps and add to this each week so that learners are not overwhelmed to begin with and they have something new to engage in each week
  • Spend time in each of the apps before you use them in class so that you can answer any technical questions in class
  • Set up the administration part of the app before taking them into class – this can be time consuming but makes for a smoother class
  • Take photos each week for evidence of engagement
  • Teach students to take screen shots when they have completed tasks for evidence
  • Look for apps that have a reporting mechanism
  • Be mindful of American apps where the language may be different eg: money notes / bills
  • If using apps with voice you may need to spend time arranging the speed of voice so that it is easily understood
  • Look for apps with levels so that students can move through at their own pace
  • Use a combination of apps and teaching styles in each lesson to cater for all students
  • Purchase headphones so that each student can be listening to their own app
  • Spend time getting to know each student

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.

Click here to hear more about this project.

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

The major focus of this project will be the use of mobile technologies.

Members of the project team have been busy working on different aspects of this project:

  • Lynn attended a webinar organised by the ACE network called Using iPads to enhance teaching and learning. The focus of this presentation was the need to get students using iPads to create digital objects and then combine these into a project rather than just using these tools as a way to access the internet. Click here to access the recording.
  • Lisa is investigating the toolbox Basic Skills in the Cybercentre and is liaising with Yooralla to discuss the specific requirements of the potential participants to ensure this program will meet individual needs
  • Malcolm has discussed promotion of the program with the GippsTAFE Marketing Department
  • Paul suggested the use of the app Scene Speak with this cohort, unfortunately this is not a free app

E-Learning Strategy

This project will use an e-learning strategy that involves the inclusion of specific weekly tasks for students to complete in the online space (GippsTAFE Online – Moodle). It is intended that these tasks will be building blocks for the students as they work towards their final assessments for each unit. Students will be encouraged to complete the tasks with specified time frames to ensure that collaborative activities, such as forums, function in a successful manner. This strategy is based on Gilly Salmon’s model which uses E-tivities to enhance online participation.

A document was prepared for use by the project team and teachers that listed Moodle Resources and Activities including a short description of each so that they can begin planning. Teachers were also referred to the, very useful, Moodle Guide for Teachers.

Recently the GippsTAFE Innovation Department delivered a training program to introduce the virtual classroom, Blackboard Collaborate, to a group of new online facilitators. The emphasis of the training was to develop skills based on a collaborative approach to learning so that these new facilitators would be able to conduct virtual classroom sessions that actively engaged the participants. The online facilitators involved in the training are acting in a peer support role so they did not come to the training with a great deal of experience in facilitating a learning group.

The training was a mix of face to face and online. The introductory session was face to face and explored the notion of online learning and how important it is for students to actively engage in the online space to maximise their learning. This session also included information on the various tools available in Blackboard Collaborate and discussion on how these tools can be used to engage the group.

In preparation for the online component of the training participants were given the opportunity to login to Blackboard Collaborate so that any technical problems could be identified and resolved prior to the actual session.

The facilitators were aged in their 20s. They approached the new technology with confidence expecting that the technology would work and that they would instinctively know how to use it. While they may not have previously used a virtual classroom they were experienced online communicators having previously used instant messaging and VoIP services, such as Skype. This attitude contrasts to older users who may require more encouragement and support when they first use new technology such as a virtual classroom.

The second session was conducted in the virtual classroom, Blackboard Collaborate. The participants first engaged in some learning activities which allowed them to see how some of the tools worked and provided a basis for discussion about how these tools could be used to engage their learner groups. During the second part of the session each person had the opportunity to act the part of facilitator and conduct a short online activity with the rest of the group acting as their students. This gave them the opportunity to see the interface from the perspectives of both a learner and a facilitator.

The emphasis of this session was not how to make the virtual classroom work but how to use it to engage their learner group and promote participation and collaborative learning. It was interesting to see how readily the group adapted to the virtual classroom needing little or no instruction about how to use the interface.

The new online facilitators were quick to put their new learning into practice and commenced their weekly peer support sessions without delay. Initial feedback indicated that the facilitators adopted practices that they felt comfortable with and thought most suitable for their learner group. One facilitator opted to use multiple microphones so that all participants could speak whenever they wanted to as this group preferred speaking to writing on the white board.

This same facilitator was impatient with the time it took for her to download Blackboard Collaborate comparing it to Skype which was already installed on her computer so opened instantly. She initially expressed a degree of frustration and questioned the value of using the more sophisticated platform for her sessions. It will be interesting to follow up on this to see how she feels as the program progresses.

As a follow up the GippsTAFE trainers sat in on a session for each of the new facilitators. It was noted that although each facilitator adopted their own style when it came to managing their sessions they all incorporated a range of activities that encouraged engagement and participation. They had adapted some of the sample activities from their training sessions and made them relevant to their group and the subject matter of their unit and used more than one mode of communication within the virtual classroom.

The GippsTAFE Innovation Department prides itself on supporting GippsTAFE teachers and students in the use of new technologies. A range of online learning help guides have been created to assist Blackboard Collaborate users and the new facilitators and their learners were encouraged to use these when necessary. These guides can be found at:
http://libguides.gippstafe.edu.au/onlinelearning