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SCHOLAR Conference 2011 - Innovative Delivery of Higher and Advanced Higer - Workshop Part 1


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Virtual classrooms and online student support

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SCHOLAR Conference 2011 - Innovative Delivery of Higher and Advanced Higer - Workshop Part 1

  1. 1. Delivering Higher Computing At Borders College By Hybrid Learning Using H/W SCHOLAR and GLOW: Lessons Learned<br />Russell Taylor<br />Computing Lecturer<br />Borders College<br />
  2. 2. Background<br />Early May 2010 – College agrees to deliver Higher Computing on a ‘hybrid’ basis on behalf of Borders Schools to allow wider range of pupil choices using GLOW and H/W SCHOLAR as a ‘pilot’<br />Hybrid – defined as a mixture of e-learning and on-site attendance (Blakesley 2004)<br />
  3. 3. Planning<br />Late-May 2010 - Planning begins to ensure that:<br />All appropriate software and infrastructure issues are identified and planned for resolution<br />Pupil timetables are synchronised as much as possible to allow full attendance at planned in-College and weekly online GLOW Meet sessions<br />
  4. 4. Mode of Delivery<br />In College – 11 occasions – 4 full days and 7 half-days<br />Weekly online session using GLOW and SCHOLAR<br />E-mail support – as required<br />Full-time access to Scholar<br />Other Lecturer-supplied materials also used to complement Scholar’s content<br />Student access to WWW<br />
  5. 5. Expectations<br />Work in partnership with Schools / Local Authority/ Heriot Watt<br />Well-motivated pupils<br />Access to relevant hardware – PCs in quiet space, Head/mics, etc.<br />Access to relevant software – Visual Basic.NET<br />Availability of web-based applications<br />Current Browser with Plug-ins installed required for GLOW and Scholar <br />Ability to work from school and home<br />In-College access to systems similar to school and home.<br />
  6. 6. Actual Experience<br />Insufficient time for planning available<br />Software issues took longer than anticipated to resolve (Firewalls)<br />Pupils took longer than anticipated to install software at home <br />affected progress through Units – especially Software Development<br />Timetables not synchronised <br />only 1 school participated online (9 pupils)<br />Motivation of pupils not always evident<br />GLOW availability/functionality not as reliable as expected<br />SCHOLAR receiving mixed results from pupils<br />
  7. 7. Academic Outcomes<br />13 pupils enrolled from three schools <br />furthest located 20 miles from College Campus<br />5 completed (38%)<br />4 of this 5 failed Prelim - 4 also did poorly in SQA coursework task<br />Much poorer than Faculty average – over 80% achievement<br />Feedback from those leaving the course varied:<br />1 joined Navy in February – long-held ambition<br />5 withdrew during Software Development Unit as “did not need HC for Uni”. <br />1 was withdrawn for insufficient progress (but did need the Higher for future career pathway)<br />1 failed to respond when asked<br />
  8. 8. Pupil Feedback - Technology<br />GLOW Meet initially viewed positively<br />Once all plug-ins installed and tested<br />‘Novelty’ factor soon wore off as:<br />System became unreliable for sound transmission from March 2011 onwards<br />Problems arose installing plug-ins at home on Windows 7 64 bit PCs and laptops<br />Pupils did not like hearing themselves!<br />SCHOLAR viewed relatively positively with some areas of course-text less well developed that expected<br />e.g. Fetch-Execute Cycle picked out for criticism<br />Some of the language structure and technical content seems much higher order than expected for a SCQF Level 6 course.<br />
  9. 9. Pupil Feedback - Organisation<br />Bus journeys ‘long and tiring’ – early morning journey on Tuesdays<br />Scheduling of in-College sessions ‘confusing’<br />Alternating between Wednesday afternoons and Tuesday mornings at Schools request<br />Some teachers marking attendances at College as ‘unauthorised absences’<br />Rooms allocated at school for online sessions not always suitable – e.g. shared spaces in Libraries.<br />More ‘hand-on’ teaching preferred <br />especially for course-work tasks<br />
  10. 10. Lesson Learned<br />More planning and liaison required over:<br />Timetables<br />In-college sessions – how many, how often, when scheduled<br />And on an on-going basis as issues arise<br />More technical testing required – in school, in college and at students home<br />Development of common platform of software needed – schools and Colleges<br />Some development of Scholar content required<br />E-tutoring skills different from in-class teaching and these need recognised and developed<br />
  11. 11. E-tutoring Skills<br />Under-recognised as different from in-class teaching<br />Perhaps devalued as a result – but needs developing<br />Body language is important in a classroom – not available online - webcam a poor substitute for being in the room<br />Need techniques to substitute for non-verbal clues from pupils<br />Development of questioning techniques vital – to test engagement as well as understanding<br />Short exercises (10 mins) with student feedback, useful and aid interactivity<br />Preparation is vital – always have a plan B when the technology fails!<br />
  12. 12. Do it again?<br />With careful planning<br />Better partnership working<br />Motivated pupils <br />Reliable technology<br />Good preparation<br />and with the benefit of experience:<br />YES!<br />