Project Summary:

Aim:

To support  online/distance learners specifically the learners who have enrolled for the National Certificate in Computing Level 2 and 3. These National Certificate consist of Unit Standard computing units made of up 40 credits in Level 2 and 52 credits in Level 3.

Outcomes : The learners have access to assistance when they require it when working through the online material.

  • These learners have already enrolled for this certificate but completion and retention rates are very poor. The anecdotal evidence suggests that the lack of available support is one of the contributing factors. With a more proactive approach by CLC’s facilitators and different options given to be able to access help, the learners who struggle initially may gain confidence and the necessary skills to find their own solutions.

Project Background:

As a facilitator at CLC I have seen first hand learners who have enrolled on the Intuto online course that we offer, drop out, and don’t complete assessments. They also ask for help from us either by phone or coming into the venues. I feel that there is probably more who would ask if they felt confident that the queries would be answered and if there was a supportive learning ethos around the online course. 

Strategies and Methods:

Initially learners are invited to a face to face induction session, one to one, or in a small group where they can interact with the software and can have their questions answered about navigating around their course material.  This could also set up confidence in the learner to ask questions. This would require a staff member who would become the online facilitator for this group of learners. This session would be mandatory to enable learners to meet the facilitator and other learners who are completing the same course. This would hopefully encourage a fostering of learning relationships. There would also be an invitation to engage in a group support network. This group support could take the form of a course “google group” that learners can access and discuss online questions and some solutions

  • A survey, questionnaire to ask current learners on what they would like to assist them in their leaning. Specific questions who be asked ie would you join an online email course group.
  • A course blog and a wikieducator could be set up for learners to support the learning and along with emails through a google group. This support has to be structured from the initial contact. There would have to be very clear guidelines set up and only access given to those who want to be part of a supportive group.
  • The course communication can also be set up within the confines of Blackboard. So we could be able to use blackboard and give access to learners make them more part of a learning structure, part of the student body.
  • Elluminate sessions could also be a way for learners to keep in touch.

Pedagogy: 

In my opinion one of the important factors in learning as an adult is the social aspect of learning where there is a group together who can discuss ideas. This allows for development of deeper learning rather than surface learning. Learners come to understand the process and can analyse and problem solve. With computing a lot of learning is done incidentally you find solutions by looking around toolbars and menus trying things out to see if it works. You can also apply this knowledge to the next problem that may arise. We have all been shown something on a computer and the sharing of this knowledge is usually given freely subsequently we learn to be confident about trying.   A quote from Supporting Students by Ormond Simpson says “Isolation is the most important factor in students dropout rates and who fail to establish support networks.” There needs to be more done in enhancing and developing student support.  Learners need to be able to feel they can connect with others and discuss issues. Creating a shared learning environment with support from the teacher and your peers allows for development of skills and learning. 

 Learner and Graduate profiles:

The learners are usually working fulltime or at home during the day, fulltime mothers and people training and retraining themselves for the workplace. They are a variety of ages and gender and they also have different computer skill levels.The graduates would have a National certificate in Level 2 or 3 or they will have gained the Unit Standard that perhaps related to something they specifically wanted/needed to learn. 

Possible issues and considerations. 

  • Difficulties : Staff who would have the time to facilitate online learning
  • Setting up the group email and encouraging use of the email, using the course blog for discussion or using blackboard for discussions.
  •  Research shows that targeted questions to answer gives better results
  • Different skill levels and course content ie unit standards and different rates of progress.
  • Accessing Blackboard
  • A facilitator needed who can set up specific times and be available to facilitate discussions and encourage learners to access all the group support available as well answer questions.
  • Getting students together for the initial sessions. The course is structured to be flexible so learners are enrolled on the course as individuals rather than each semester a group going through, so an online option to understand how to navigate the course material may be the answer.
  • Different learning styles there may need to be additional resources created to enhance the learning process
  • How the facilitator views and orchestrates the online materials as well as learner motivation.
  • Sources 

“Making the right connections improving quality in online learning” Barry Jackson and Kyriaki Angnostopoulou Middlesex University UK Teaching and Learning Online Pedagogies for New Technologies Edited by John Stephenson      

Supporting Students in Online, Open, Distance Learning: Ormond Simpson

Bloom’s Taxonomy

Vygotsky Zone of Proximal Development

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